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UCU concern over drop in higher education participation

20 July 2006 | last updated: 15 December 2015

New figures released today relating to the nature and performance of the higher education sector in the UK have revealed a drop in student numbers from lower socio-economic groups.

There was a drop from 28.6% to 28.2% of young first-year degree students from lower socio-economic groups starting courses in 2004-05. Meanwhile the number of students dropping out after their first year rose from 7.8% the year before to 9.5% of the total.

Commenting on the latest figures, UCU joint general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'We are extremely concerned that fewer students from lower socio-economic groups went to university last year. This coupled with the fact that more students dropped out and less found employment after graduation should concern everyone involved in higher education.

'The university experience is about so much more than students coughing up for their degree. It needs to properly look after the welfare and well-being of staff and students. Government policy must ensure the brightest students are able to study the course most suited to their skills, taught by well-paid and well-motivated staff.

'Unless the government is prepared to back up its warm words on widening participation and proper pay for staff with the cash needed then we will never see an improvement in the social make up of university students or talented debt-laden graduates even considering academia as a viable profession.'

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