Education & Family

Universities to target more working class white boys

Teenagers Image copyright Milenko Bokan
Image caption White working class boys are among the lowest achievers

More white working class students must be recruited onto degree courses, England's universities have been told.

Only 10% of boys from the poorest fifth of areas enter higher education, official statistics show.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said too many students were missing out and universities needed to do more.

Director of Fair Access Professor Les Ebdon said no one with the potential to go to university should be deterred from going because of their background.

However, poor white boys are also among the lowest achievers at school and are less likely to take A-levels than richer pupils.


The guidance comes just weeks after the Prime Minister announced universities would have to publish data on the backgrounds of their applicants.

All universities which charge more than £6,000 a year for tuition fees are required to draw up an agreement showing how they will improve access for disadvantaged groups.

Under these new plans, they will have to set themselves specific targets for recruiting such under-represented groups. These will then have to be agreed by the Office of Fair Access in the usual way.

Mr Johnson said: "We are asking universities to go further and faster than ever before, especially the most selective institutions.

"This guidance for the first time identifies the groups of students where most attention is needed, such as white boys from the poorest homes and students with specific learning difficulties.

"We want to see smarter spending from universities, with more outreach into neighbourhoods with low university entry rates, and much deeper partnerships with local schools."

Universities will also be required to:

  • Build partnerships with schools in areas where few people go to university
  • Provide better support for students with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and Asperger's Syndrom and ADD/ADHD.

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