Significant increase in students from non-traditional backgrounds
(21 February 2003)
Durham University has almost 1,000 students from backgrounds with little or no tradition of higher education, according to new figures. The latest evidence of widening participation at Durham comes in a new analysis by the University of its admission data.
It shows that the number of people from the poorest areas of the country (also officially termed “low-participation neighbourhoods”) gaining places at the University of Durham has seen a significant increase of 76% over the past two years.
There are now around 1,000 students from non-traditional neighbourhoods studying at the University, almost all of them from the North East, compared with an intake of just over 200 two years ago.
These figures demonstrate that the University’s carefully planned and targeted programme of widening participation measures is proving successful. The programme, started three years ago, includes visits to more than 90 state schools in the region, activity days in the University for pupils, and residential summer schools for sixth formers. The aim is to generate more applications - which in turn lead to a higher proportion of admissions.
In a region with one of the lowest take-up rates in higher education in the UK, Durham University is committed to encouraging the brightest and best students to apply and join the University regardless of background.
The figures, issued by the University, also show growth in overall admissions of UK school and college leavers from state schools. They demonstrate an increase from 62% two years ago to almost 67% currently. The proportion of students who gained admission from low participation neighbourhoods has seen a steady increase from 8% in 2000 to 10% in 2001 and 11% in 2002.
Durham has seen an overall increase in applications well above the UK average in each of the last few years, with the increase at over 5% by January of this year, according to figures announced by the admissions service UCAS last week. The number of people applying to Durham is almost 26,000 which equates to about eight for every place on offer.
Richard Taylor, Head of Schools Liaison for Durham University said: “We are committed to recruiting an increasing number of talented people regardless of their background. Our widening participation measures are paying off in raising the aspirations of people who come from areas where there is little or no tradition of going to university.
“We work with pupils from primary schools to sixth-forms and we expect our efforts in widening access to show its full effect in admissions in another two or three years time working in line with the Government’s White Paper on Higher Education.”
This item was reported in The Journal (25/02/03) and on Radio Newcastle and Radio Cleveland (27/02/03).
Notes to Editors
- Eight schools and colleges in the North East are among the top 10 suppliers of students to the University of Durham. The top three establishments are in Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Durham City, and others are in Stockton, Darlington and Guisborough.
- The University’s successful STARS (School Targeted Aspiration Raising Scheme) scheme aims to raise the aspiration of young people in the north-east, encourage progression into Higher Education and support their studies through study skills and university visits.
- Durham University has over 11,000 full-time, 1,500 part-time students and about 150 visiting students who read for a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. The number of students from low participation neighbourhoods represents around 10% of the undergraduate total.
- Durham University’s work in widening participation was acknowledged in the Government’s White Paper on Higher Education.