However young, white men from lower income families remain under represented and the good progress made may be “slowing down” according to UCAS.
The report found that the number of 18 year olds accepted into university rose by 1.5 per cent to 238,900 and despite a drop in the population of 18 year olds, this number is the highest recorded to date.
The chances of entering higher education have increased too with an increase in around 4 per cent across the UK. This has meant a record 32.5 per cent attendance in England.
Overall there were 465,500 people from the UK placed in higher education through UCAS in 2016, an increase of 0.4 per cent.
Men still least likely to go to uni
The End of Cycle report also examines how the entry rate differs between different social groups. “Although the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering higher education has reached record levels again this year, there are early signals that the good progress made in recent years may be slowing down,” says UCAS’ Chief Executive, Mary Curnock Cook.
White, young men still lack behind in the figures as Mary explains, “When she entered Downing Street in July, the Prime Minister pointed out that white working-class boys are the least likely to go to university.”
“Our report underlines this point, showing that nearly three quarters of the group least likely to enter university are men, most are from lower income families, and nine out of ten are in the White ethnic group,” Mary adds.
Time to improve GCSE results
Despite the results, UCAS remain positive that the numbers can rise in the near future.
“The best way to get on track to better progress is to focus efforts on improving GCSE outcomes for all children which we know is the primary driver of increased entry rates to higher education,” Mary says.
The report also found the number of EU students accepted at UK universities also rose by 7 per cent to 31,400, however the number of accepted students from outside the EU fell by 2.3 per cent to 38,300, the lowest since 2011.
The full End of Cycle report 2016 and underlying data files can be downloaded from the Undergraduate Analysis Reports section of the UCAS website.