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Participation in higher education in England and the UK: Social Indicators page

Published Monday, November 27, 2017

Trends in participation including new figures for 2013/14

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The current participation indicator is the Higher Education Initial Participation Rate (HEIPR). It measures participation for 17-30 year old English domiciled first-time entrants.

The HEIPR increased gradually from 39% in 1999/00 to 42% in 2005/06 before falling to 40% in 2006/07.  The Labour Government's  target was 50% by 2010.

A new methodology was introduced in 2007/08 and this series increased to 2011/12 before a sharp drop in 2012/13. The Government said this was largely due to the fall in deferred entries in 2011/12 (the last year before higher fees). Levels increased from 2013/14, but in 2015/16 still only matched the 2011/12 highs.

Under the old methodology participation among men was static or fell, while it increased among women.  In recent years the gender gap has increased to more than 10 points.

The part-time entry element within the HEIPR fell to its lowest ever level (4%) from 2013/14.

The HEIPR replaced the Age Participation Index which looked at entrants aged under 21 in Great Britain. This increased from 12% in 1979 to 30% in the early 1990s before increasing more gradually to 32% by the end of the 1990s.


Since 2001/02  there have been only gradual increases in each under-represented group - those from state schools,  socio-economic groups 4-7 and low participation neighbourhoods - as a proportion of all young entrants.

Between 2005/06 and 2013/14 the proportion of English state school pupils eligible for free school meals going to higher education increased from 13% to 22%. In 2013/14 it was still only just over half the rate for pupils not eligible for free meals (39%).



Commons Briefing papers SN02630

Author: Lydia Jackson

Topics: Higher education, Students

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