New AccessHE research reveals potential impact of covid-19 on HE entry rates in London

November 11, 2020

‘University Entry and the Class of 2021’ report warns that a covid-related fall in attainment could lead to thousands of students in London missing out on a university place in 2021, the majority of whom would be students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

New research undertaken by AccessHE, the London network for social mobility through higher education, has analysed A-Level attainment profiles for students in the capital and nationally over recent years to project the impact of learning loss on next year’s A-Level students. The report ‘University entry & the class of 2021: Who is set to miss out’ finds that, with a one grade decline in achievement:

  • over 5000 fewer students from London may be able to enter HE in 2021, of whom nearly 75% are from BAME backgrounds and a quarter from Black African backgrounds.
  • over 60% of these 5000 students most at risk of losing a place in higher education are from the poorest areas as measured by Index of Multiple Deprivation.
  • with a two grade decline in achievement, a further 11,000 students from London would be at risk of losing out on higher education places and a further nearly 50,000 students nationally.
  • if the grade profiles of students from BAME backgrounds nationally follow those in London over 27,000 students are at risk of missing out on places and nearly 11,000 from BAME backgrounds.

Based on this data, the report recommends a package of support for the class of 2021, which includes:

  • Setting up a special cross-sector taskforce including universities, schools/colleges and students to ensure that the class of 2021 are not unfairly disadvantaged.
  • Funding additional higher education information, advice and guidance for the class of 2021.
  • Extending the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) eligibility to those undertaking A-Level and equivalent vocational qualifications from 16-19.

As Dr Graeme Atherton, Head of AccessHE and the lead author of the report states:

‘There must be action now to support students wanting to enter higher education in 2021 or we risk thousands of young people, in particular those from the communities hit hardest by COVID, without a future’.

The full report can be accessed here. Its recommendations echo calls for a targeted package of support for the class of 2021 by the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) and the National Union for Student (NUS), information on which can be found here.