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New rankings show UK’s most equal universities

Published: 5 April 2018 at 13:00

Professor Iain Martin

Anglia Ruskin Vice Chancellor produces policy paper on widening participation

A new policy paper written by Professor Iain Martin, Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University, has ranked UK universities on their success in widening participation and attracting students from a wide range of backgrounds.

Benchmarking widening participation: how should we measure and report progress? has been published today by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI).

The paper looks at each university’s undergraduate admissions based on POLAR (Participation of Local Areas) data, which places each local area into one of five groups based on the proportion of young people going into Higher Education.

By creating a Gini co-efficient for each university the analysis ranks each institution on how equal its student body is, with the University of Hull coming top, closely followed by the University of Derby. Anglia Ruskin is ninth in the rankings.

Professor Martin said:

“Widening participation and ensuring that students from all backgrounds are provided opportunities to study at a university that matches their talents and aspirations has been a pivotal part of English higher education policy and strategy for many years. While much has been achieved, it remains that we do not have an educational level playing field. 

“Benchmarking fair and equitable participation using the Gini index – a well-understood and recognised measure of the equitable distribution of resource – provides a single way to measure our transition to a higher education system where all students attend a university that matches their talents and aspiration. It also avoids perpetuating clustering based on past socio-economic characteristics.”

Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI, said:

“This analysis reveals which universities reflect wider society best, and those which have further to travel. It remains surprisingly controversial with some people to suggest that our oldest universities should mirror our society more closely.

“Yet everyone benefits when there is the best possible fit between individuals and institutions. For example, learning outcomes are better when students from diverse backgrounds study alongside each other.”

The full policy paper can be downloaded from the HEPI website here.