HL Deb 24 February 2003 vol 645 cc8-9WA
Lord Howie of Troon

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many students from the top three social classes went to university in 1960 and how many in the most recent year for which records are available; and how many students from the bottom three social classes went to university in the same years. [HL 1358]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland)

The latest available information, which shows the social class breakdown of the age participation index (API), is shown in the following table. The API measures the proportion of students who enter full-time HE by the time they are 20. The underlying numbers of students by social class for both years are not held centrally.

The API is different from the initial entry rate (IER), which measures the proportion of students who enter full-time or part-time HE by the time they are 30, and is used to measure progress towards the Government's 50 per cent target. The IER in 2001–02 is estimated to be 43 per cent.

The Government are committed to raising the participation rates for people from less affluent backgrounds, and has introduced the Excellence Challenge, including the AimHigher campaign, which is targeted at raising attainment and aspirations among young people who traditionally would not consider going to university.

Age Participation Index1 by Social Class
Academic year beginning:
Social Class 1960 2000
I, II, Illn2 27% 48%
IIIm, IV, V3 4% 18%
All Classes 5% 33%
1 The API is defined as the number of UK domiciled under 21 initial entrants to full-time and sandwich courses expressed as a proportion of the averaged 18–19 year old GB population.
2 Professional (I), Intermediate (II), and Skilled Non-manual (IIIN).
3 Skilled Manual (IIIM), Semi-skilled (IV), and Unskilled (V).