YOUNG people from the North East are missing out on places at top universities even if they achieve good exam grades, a new report shows.
The study by education charity, The Sutton Trust, shows there is a worrying gap between schools in the North and South and the percentage of students who go on to higher education – even if their exam results are the same.
Headteachers say they are concerned the gap could widen in years to come, especially for schools with a high number of students from poorer backgrounds.
Phil Hearne, principal at Northumberland Church of England Academy in Ashington, said: “With rising tuition fees, it’s likely more young people from working class families will be discouraged to apply for a place at one of the more selective universities, especially as these tend to be further afield and people can’t afford to travel for their studies anymore.”
Mr Hearne says students from more affluent families might also be better prepared for their university applications than poorer students, giving them an advantage during the interview process.
“Middle class students are more likely to have more life experiences to call on, such as volunteer work abroad, or an internship at a company,” he added.
“The majority of work experience placements are done for free and how many young people from working class families can afford to work for nothing?”
Paul Sampson, headteacher at Walbottle Campus in Newcastle, said: “This report raises the question of fairness and equality.”
The report includes data from sixth forms and colleges from across the UK and compares exam points per student, used by universities when allocating places.