Responding to statistics on widening participation at English universities and colleges for 2018-19, James Turner, CEO of the Sutton Trust, said:

“Highly selective universities have made important steps forward in widening access in recent years, but this data highlights for many institutions there is much more to be done. We believe that universities should make greater and more ambitious use of contextual offers as an important way to improve access, recognising that the playing field at age 18 is far from level and potential isn’t always captured in grades.

“The regional divides we see in this data are also concerning. Young people from all backgrounds, across all areas of the country, should have equal opportunity to access higher education and fulfil their potential.

“It is encouraging to see that the proportion of mature part-time students from low participation neighbourhoods has increased. Mature study is an important second chance route to social mobility many, and we are concerned by the drastic decline in recent years. We hope to see this upwards trend continue given the importance of lifelong learning for future opportunity.”

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