Recent data released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) shows that a record number of underprivileged students have applied to pursue the UK’s most exclusive university degrees.
Following a record-breaking number of disadvantaged students being accepted onto university courses in 2022, the number applying to study at high-ranking universities has grown substantially.
These students have applied to Oxbridge and Cambridge in greater numbers, but are also more likely than previously to have applied to some of the most selective courses, such as medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science.
Local areas across the UK have contributed data regarding the number of students applying to university. They are split into five groups based on how many people from their area go to university.
[Underprivileged students] have to borrow more than well-off students just to live on, resulting in them graduating with higher levels of debt which is both shameful and hugely unfair
Sir Peter Lampl, Founder of Sutton Trust
According to UCAS, areas which have historically had the lowest proportion of young people going into education have seen a 7% rise in the number of 18-year-olds applying for university since last year. In comparison, application numbers from the group comprising the most advantaged areas have risen by 2%.
UCAS Interim Chief Executive, Sander Kristel, stated that this development was ‘’encouraging’’. However the founder of the Sutton Trust (an organisation that aims to improve social mobility), Sir Peter Lampl, argued that the gap bridging the wealthiest and most disadvantaged students has ‘’hardly shifted’’.
Lampl highlighted the economic strain for less well-off students once at university, noting: “They have to borrow more than well-off students just to live on, resulting in them graduating with higher levels of debt which is both shameful and hugely unfair.’’
Lampl stressed that students from under-represented areas face an ‘’uphill struggle’’ once they begin university.
He added: “Our previous research has found that many students are skipping meals as well as working sometimes full-time hours.”
According to the Guardian, 1/5 students at Russell Group universities have considered dropping out due to the cost of living.