Widening participation in higher education (HE) is a priority for this government, building on the real progress being made in the last 5 years. In England the entry rates for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds were at record levels in 2014, rising from 13.6 per cent in 2009 to 18.2 per cent in 2014. Applications from this group also reached a record high in 2015, with the latest data showing a 21 per cent application rate. As set out in the Green Paper on Higher Education, published on 6 November, this government has set a goal to double the proportion of people from disadvantaged backgrounds entering HE by the end of this Parliament from 2009 levels. Schools have a critical role in delivering on this commitment.
We have introduced compulsory study of the key English Baccalaureate subjects to make sure more pupils get the rigorous academic education they need to succeed in getting a place at university.
We are also committed to continuing the pupil premium, protected at current rates, so that pupils from the poorest backgrounds get the help they need, including the most able.
Work is underway to implement collaborative national networks that will provide single points of contact to help teachers and advisers to find out about HE outreach activity in their area, and give general advice about progression to HE. A total of £22 million is being provided in 2014-16, and 35 networks will cover schools across England.