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Poorer students 'more likely to give up on attending university'

22/06/2017 Joanna

Teenagers from poorer backgrounds are more likely to give up on their ambitions of attending university, according to a new study.

Carried out by University College London's Institute of Education, the research analysed a survey of teenagers conducted between 2004 and 2010 to examine why a larger proportion of children expected to apply to university at age 14 than ultimately did so by the age of 21.

It was found that the most deprived 20 per cent of children were more than twice as likely as the most advantaged fifth to switch from being likely to apply for university to being unlikely to apply as they grew older, whereas those from the richest backgrounds were the ones most inclined to change their minds in the opposite direction.

The study also looked at the effect that exam results had on these intentions, with pupils from all backgrounds who received poor GCSE results shown to be likely to be put off applying for university.

However, it was also noted that among students who considered themselves unlikely to attend university, the richest individuals were two-and-a-half times more likely to change their mind after performing well in their GCSEs than poorer students with equally good grades.

This indicates that teachers and schools need to be doing more to encourage children from disadvantaged backgrounds to aim for a university place and stick to their goal, especially among the most gifted students.

Study author Dr Jake Anders told Schools Week: "After age 16 exams is a challenging time to reach young people, as many move between educational institutions or leave full-time education altogether.

"However, if schools are able to help pupils understand the context of their exam results, this could help to keep them on track."

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