Press release

MillionPlus comment on the DfE widening participation in higher education statistics

03 Aug 2016

MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, has today (3 August) commented on the Department for Education widening participation in higher education statistics.

Pam Tatlow, Chief Executive of MillionPlus, said:

“Despite the marginal decline in the number of students in receipt of free school meals progressing to higher education shown in today’s figures, we very much welcome the upward trend in the progression of these and other students to higher education.

“This progress would not have been possible without the contribution of modern universities to widening participation. The pace of change in the so-called selective universities remains both glacial and small in terms of the number of admissions of students from widening participation backgrounds. These figures confirm that modern universities are key to the achievement of the new Prime Minister’s ambitions to improve social mobility.

“However there would be value in Ministers in the new Department for Education reconsidering the way in which social mobility and progression to higher education is assessed. The current performance measure which links progression to the 30 most selective universities was introduced by Michael Gove. It is a fairly crude and reductive measure which undervalues the achievements of the overwhelming majority of students and schools as well as the universities to which these students progress.”


Notes to editors

  1. MillionPlus is the Association for Modern Universities. More information can be found at
  2. For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Dan Blows on 020 7717 1658 or email
  3. The Department for Education statistics refer to the 2013/14 academic year, the first cohort where all students were affected by government reforms to the student finance system, including an increase in the tuition fee cap.  The statistics cover young peoples' participation in higher education, including their social background and occupation after graduating. They are available here.