Nearly 87,000 previously low-attaining young people progressed into higher education because of the opportunities provided by further education, according to a new report.
The report, published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis) this month, found that 42 per cent of students who entered HE in FE programmes were classified as educationally disadvantaged, compared with 36 per cent of those who were admitted to universities.
With 38 per cent of learners who had not achieved five GCSEs at grade A*-C in school between 2009 and 2011 progressing into higher education, this amounted to “nearly 87,000 young people entering HE through opportunities provided by FE”, Bis concluded.
According to the report, a fifth of the 128,780 learners who progressed into higher education in 2012-13 did so into HE in FE colleges. “This is more than twice as many as those who went on to HE in FE in 2007-08.”
David Corke, director of education and skills policy at the Association of Colleges, said the report was “a very robust piece of research, which demonstrates that further education and sixth-form colleges do much of the heavy lifting when it comes to encouraging social mobility through education”.
“It shows how much colleges do to get people on to professional and technical education courses while at the same time improving social mobility. They support students in developing their career opportunities, which in turn strengthens the local, regional and national economy.”
Mr Corke added: “As expected, the report highlights that in areas of economic deprivation the role of colleges in promoting the progression of higher education is even more pronounced.”