News | Published September 29 2019

Half of all young people now attend university

Half of all young people in England are going to university for the first time, according to new figures from the Department of Education.

The 50 per cent mark is seen as particularly symbolic, with New Labour making it a key target for half of all young adults to go into higher education in 1999.

Figures from the Department for Education, for 2017-18, show 50.2 per cent of people going into higher education.

They also reveal that more women than men are attending university, with 57 per cent of women attending compared to 44.1 per cent for men.

The number of young adults attending university has grown steadily; last year figures showed 49.9 per cent of young people were in higher education.

In a conference speech in September 1999, newly elected Tony Blair set the target of 50 per cent, telling delegates: “Today I set a target of 50 per cent of young adults going into higher education in the next century.”

According to Commons Library figures, only 15 per cent stayed in full-time education after the age of 18 in any kind of training or further or higher education in 1980.

In July, figures from UCAS revealed record numbers of 18-year-olds in England had applied for a place at university.

236,350 school leavers, around 40 per cent, had applied by the deadline, an increase on - 3,970 on the year before.

At the time, England's universities minister Chris Skidmore praised the numbers and said it was "fantastic" to see record rates of 18-year-olds applying to university.

“These figures show we are making good progress in our ambition to open up world-leading higher education to anyone who has the potential to benefit from it, and I'm confident that we can go even further,” he said.

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Authored by

Joshua Sandiford
Junior Political Editor
September 29 2019

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