Gaping Educational Divide Ignored | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Gaping Educational Divide Ignored

Emily Youlton discusses the class divide that is deterring students from attending university

I’m not saying responsibility lies completely with the Tories but it does seem very coincidental that the party known widely for class division has now reached new records of class divisions within universities whilst in government. When Higher Education first began, it was often only accessible for the upper classes who could afford the entire life education experience. Now following the release of the latest figures from UCAS, it seems we could be returning to those elitist times.

There is now becoming a real lack of social mobility within higher education with a significant decline in students attending from lower income backgrounds. When using the classic indicator of poverty being those students who received free school meals when younger, the statistics indicate a worryingly wane. The signs are that University is again becoming a commodity for the rich and is unattainable for all backgrounds. This is just plain wrong. Your background shouldn't determine your future. No matter your parents’ earning, everyone should be given equal opportunity to pursue higher education.

With this insane increase, combined with the abolition of maintenance grants and an increased cost of living, do these students really stand a chance?

There is no doubt that this result correlates with the £9000 a year fees that are a real deterrent to those on greatly restricted budgets without parents who can pay!  With this insane increase, combined with the abolition of maintenance grants and an increased cost of living, do these students really stand a chance?

I think not. I’m very concerned to see what it will actually take for our government to make a change. This news came just days before it was announced that tuition fees are now increasing to a maximum of £9250. It seems increasingly apparent that this government want the rich to be the only ones to have this opportunity.

How is it okay that this gaping divide is ignored by the powers that be? They should recognise this as a warning of the backward direction that our country is now heading in. It’s terribly sad that students from poorer backgrounds are now less likely to attend university, something which all students should surely have the opportunity to experience. This class divide completely betrays Theresa May’s aspirations for her government; one of her leading manifestations was to quash the class divide in the UK. That’s clearly working very well.

It is now down to Universities to try and offer incentives and support to encourage lower income students to experience higher education. There is no way that the opportunity of high quality higher education should be taken away from students just because of their economic background.

This gap between social classes is at the largest it has been since records began. To close the gap, it is estimated that an extra 40,000 students from lower income backgrounds would need to attend university next year. Let’s face it, this is unlikely to happen. Most students’ battle through on a very restricted budget as it is and with less and less support from the government it is likely that lower income students won’t attend university. I say a real restriction to diversity of culture and places some at an unfair disadvantage!

English Language Student. News and Comment Writer (@EmilyJYoulton)


10th January 2017 at 9:00 am

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Evening Standard