Some 44 per cent of young people entered higher education in 2002, according to figures released this week by the Department for Education and Skills. The figure is up 1 percentage point on the previous year.
The government uses a new higher education initial participation rate to measure its progress towards the target of 50 per cent of young people experiencing higher education by 2010.
According to the new measure, the proportion of English men aged between 18 and 30 years starting full-time courses at English higher education institutions rose from 38 per cent to 40 per cent between 1999 and 2002.
The figure for women rose from 43 per cent to 47 per cent.