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News article

Representing the Underrepresented

Published: 06 March 2019

A report by the National Education Opportunities Network reveals that white young men in receipt of free school meals are the least likely, next to those from Gypsy/Roma backgrounds, of any group to enter higher education - referred to as from ‘low participation neighbourhoods’.

The in-depth analysis into the participation of white students from working class areas showed that in over 50% of universities, less than 5% of students were white, male and from low participation neighbourhoods. However, York St John University bucks this trend as 18% of its students are white males from low participation areas.

Professor Karen Stanton, Vice Chancellor of York St John University said: “We welcome the news that our university is opening the higher education doors for some of the most underrepresented young people in the sector. Studying for a degree can build confidence, raise aspirations and increase social mobility and giving more young people this opportunity is at the heart if what we stand for”.

In total, over 50% of students at York St John come from one or more of the different social groups that are underrepresented in Higher Education. The university has a longstanding stated mission to widen access and promote fairness in education, with a strong record of positive results.

Professor Stanton added “Our commitment to inclusivity will never waver and we look forward to welcoming more underrepresented students through our doors to achieve their dreams through higher education.”

Young male students from lower socio-economic backgrounds who choose to study at York St John University participate in a wide range of choices with popular options including politics, computer science and music production. Rob Hickey, Executive Director for Growth & Infrastructure at York St John University said: “We’re a university that takes our values seriously and we’re always looking at how we can do more to encourage and welcome students from all backgrounds, it’s part of our DNA. Our new admission scheme is recognising the range of barriers that some people face to entering Higher Education and adjusts our requirements for entry to reflect this. All universities have a duty to raise the level of participation of higher education in their institutions to improve life chances for students from lower participation backgrounds. Widening access to university is always going to be a priority for us.”

The report showed that the ‘relationship between education and white lower socio-economic communities was a complex one and to re-orientate it requires long term work to address social and economic inequality.’ Last year also saw York St John University receive sanctuary status in recognition of its work to create a culture of welcome and inclusion for asylum seekers - one of only six universities in the United Kingdom to have received the accolade.

Access the NEON report here.


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