The gap between students on free school meals able to study at university widened this year compared with their better-off peers – making the poorer group only half as likely to attend university in England. School-leavers in England from the most deprived backgrounds were the least likely to attend university, with the gap widening for the second year in a row.
"Young people from the most advantaged backgrounds are still 5.5 times more likely to enter universities with the highest entrance requirements than their disadvantaged peers,” said Les Ebdon, the director of Fair Access to Higher Education. “As a result, people with the potential to excel are missing out on opportunities. This is an unforgivable waste of talent, and universities must continue to press for transformational progress.”
Ucas admission data showed that the entry rate for pupils on free school meals was nearly 17%, while the entry rate for other pupils was close to 34%. The rate of successful applications grew twice as quickly among the better-off students than those from the more deprived households among 18-year-olds.