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Evidence published in ground-breaking NUS report

May 3rd 2018

Work carried out by Bevan Foundation Policy & Research Officer Lucy Williams has been quoted in a new report by the National Union of Students (NUS).

The report, ‘Class Dismissed’, looks at the barriers faced by working-class students throughout post-16 education, highlighting the inequalities between them and other students.  Most importantly, it outlines a number of recommendations for government and higher education institutions to address the issues raised including those we have identified.

The report references the findings emerging from our project to develop better opportunities for young people who leave school without five ‘good’ GCSEs, including the link between attainment levels in Wales and students’ eligibility for free school meals (FSM). It also takes on board our findings about access to learning, stating that:

‘Working class people and people in poverty are significantly more likely to study tertiary education closer to home, and to study as commuter students. The consequences of this include the accessibility of certain subjects, modes of study and development pathways. This is of particular importance in areas with poor transport infrastructure and rural areas. This is more pronounced when considering the availability of prerequisite qualifications, especially for those who leave school without the appropriate qualifications for their preferred tertiary education pathway.’

Lucy Williams’ research was directly quoted as follows:

“Young people who are eligible for FSM come from low income families and are at a higher risk of living in poverty. The data shows that more young people from low income families are leaving school without the qualifications they need to access many of the post-16 opportunities available, e.g. level 3 courses or higher-level apprenticeships.

In Wales the main post-16 options available for those without five GCSEs are entry level, level 1 or level 2 courses at an FE college or work-based learning. These come with additional barriers to access, which many young people face regardless of their GCSE achievements, including: Cost – our research shows that some students from low income families are paying approx. £300 to access some courses in college, including entry level and level 1 courses. Transport and geography – access to public transport in very limited in some parts of Wales and the majority of opportunities exist in urban areas.”

The report concludes that while financial inequalities are part of the problem, they’re not the only barrier, and the culture around who further and higher education are for must change in order for more students to access them.

Access the full report: Class dismissed: Getting in and getting on in further and higher education

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