Everyone has the right to education, however access to further education in the UK is not always equal; Students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds demonstrate lower progression rates into further education.

How does socioeconomic disadvantage affect access to further education?

Economic disparity is one of the main factors affecting the number of students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds attending university or further education.  

The cost of university in the UK is at a record high. Universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year in tuition fees for an undergraduate degree. With the average length of an undergraduate degree in England being three years, this means that most students will graduate will a minimum of £27,750 in tuition fee debt. 

On top of this, there are substantial living costs to maintain while studying at university. Students must find the funds to sustain costs for accommodation, utility bills, transport, food and other expenses. Keeping up with these living costs can be an exceptional challenge while studying full time. For this reason, many students rely on financial support from their parents or families. 

However, students from families with a low income are often unable to lean on their parents or carers for financial support. The concern may students face about whether they will be able to cope with the financial challenges of university is one of the biggest factors affecting attendance. 

What are the benefits of further education?

Attending university is not the only route into employment. After leaving high school or sixth form there are a number of options available to students, including apprenticeships, college, or full-time employment. University is not the right choice for everyone. However, if you want to study a degree in a subject that interests you, then we want to help ensure you have the resources you need to achieve your goals. 

The job market is extremely competitive. Skilled workers are in high demand and obtaining a university degree is a great route into a successful career. Most jobs don’t require a specific degree qualification, but people with a university education are statistically more likely to have a higher paid job. Moreover, further education is a requirement for a wide range of careers including: 

  • Medicine 
  • Teaching and Education 
  • Engineering 
  • Accountancy 
  • Law 
  • Architecture

How to prepare for university

For students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, one of the most important ways to prepare for university is to organise your finances. While the cost of university in the UK is high, there are a number of ways to access financial support from the Government or through your university institution.  

The type and amount of funding available from the Government typically depends on your parents’ or household income. In England, Student Finance provide the following funding for university students: 

  • Tuition Fee Loan: Student Finance England will pay your tuition fee directly to your university. This loan can cover the full cost of your tuition fees but you will be expected to pay it back. 
  • Maintenance Loan: The maintenance loan is paid directly into your bank account. The amount of loan you are awarded depends on your parents’ household income. Just like the tuition fee loan, you will be expected to pay back the maintenance loan. 

For further information about funding for university education, visit the Government website.  

Do universities provide support to students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds?

Universities and teachers play a huge role in a student’s learning journey. Universities welcome students from all backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities. You should feel confident that you will be accepted and supported during your time studying at university. 

In particular, many universities offer support to students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds through bursaries and grants. The type of support available will depend on the institution. 

For further support and information relating to further education and university, visit Developing a Student. 

Further education
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