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More state pupils take the higher route

An expected hike in undergraduate entrants into Welsh universities from state schools and colleges was welcomed this week

An expected hike in undergraduate entrants into Welsh universities from state schools and colleges was welcomed this week

An expected hike in undergraduate entrants into Welsh universities from state schools and colleges was welcomed this week.

It comes with a lower drop-out rate at the end of the first year, something that will be welcomed by A-level students fearing the unknown this year.

Figures officially released by HESA, the higher education statistics agency, after TES Cymru went to press, looked likely to confirm that 93 per cent of all new places in 20067 were taken up by these state school students, compared with 88 per cent in the UK as a whole.

Ten per cent of all "freshers" in Wales were from disadvantaged neighbourhoods, slightly higher than the British average of 9 per cent.

But while there was a slight fall in the number of first year drop-outs compared with 20056, numbers are still higher in Wales than the UK average.

In 20056, the number of state school and college entrants to universities was just over 91 per cent, beaten only by Northern Ireland at 99.8 per cent.

Professor Philip Gummett, chief executive of the higher education funding council for Wales, said the figures were good news, showing that the nation was "widening participation".

He added: "Although we welcome the fall in the proportion of full-time students not continuing after their first year, we recognise the figures are still too high.

"We have introduced a premium in our funding to support and improve widening access performance, including support for hard-to-retain students.

"We are also working on improving retention."

Along with an increase in students from state school backgrounds, there was a rise in full-time undergraduate students in receipt of a Disabled Students' Allowance, a greater proportion than UK-wide.

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