The university watchdog, the Office for Students, has published a new report analysing higher education providers’ access and participation plans. It finds that if targets are met, the access gap between disadvantaged students and their wealtheir peers will halve in five years.

In response, James Turner, Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust, said:

“There is some great work underway in universities and a robust focus from OfS on widening access to higher education.

“But as today’s report shows, there are still significant regional disparities in who gets into the most selective universities. More must be done to tackle these geographical divides, so it is great to see universities setting out ambitious plans to halve the gap between the poorest and wealthiest areas within five years. The focus now must be on implementation and on ensuring that these targets are met and real progress is made on a decades-old problem.

“We know that inequalities in higher education go beyond the point of entry, so the focus on closing gaps in dropout rates and degree outcomes is also welcome. It is vital that all young people not only have the same opportunities to access higher education, but also to succeed once they get there.”


  • The Sutton Trust is committed to improving social mobility from birth to the workplace. Founded by Sir Peter Lampl in 1997, the Trust has supported over 30,000 young people through evidence-led programmes and published over 200 pieces of agenda-setting research, many of which have influenced government policy.

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