Durham ranked 7th worst university for class equality

By Natasha Livingstone

A new study analysing widening participation data has placed Durham in the bottom ten of British universities.

The report focuses on class equality in the UK’s 132 universities.

The assessment concluded that less elite universities had better equal access than prestigious institutions, such as Durham.

This follows Palatinate’s report in February that the University has the sixth lowest state school entry in the UK.

Produced for the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), the study shows that Cambridge has the greatest class inequality, while St. Andrews, Bristol, Oxford, and Aberdeen constitute the bottom five.

Hull University came out on top for admitting a balanced intake of both rich and poor students.

However, Cambridge has criticised the study’s methodology, which used 2016 Polar data to rank universities against an equality target.

HEPI says neighbourhoods were divided into five groups, according to the proportion of young people accessing higher education. Ideally, each university would take a fifth of its students from each group.

A spokesman for Cambridge University said the Polar data “effectively assumes that people living on the same street have the same likelihood of entering higher education as their neighbours”. The study does not take into account household income and access to education.

Cambridge University has also said it welcomes “different interpretations of the data”.

Vice-Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University Iain Martin who authored the report has said that despite efforts to boost equal access to higher education: “We do not have an educational level playing field.”

The director of HEPI, Nick Hillman added: “This analysis reveals which universities reflect our society best and those which have further to travel.

“The best way to deliver fairer access to selective institutions is the same as the best way to deliver widening participation overall, which is to provide more places.”

Image: Peter Bonnett via Flickr

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