Our report, Entry to Initial Full-time Higher Education, also shows that social class has an impact on propensity to apply for certain subjects.
This is crucial in the context of the Higher Education Funding Council for England's proposals on postcode funding ("Wraps off v-cs' postcode database", THES, January 29). If a higher education institution has a portfolio skewed in favour of "middle-class subjects", it may lose out, even if it has a higher proportion of students from lower income groups than the norm for those disciplines.
The figures for Northern Ireland in relation to class are worthy of further investigation. Heist speculates that the working-class profile of NI higher education is a product of both the demography of the province and migration. Relatively few middle-class applicants apply to NI from the mainland but a high proportion of local applicants from higher-income groups leave, either for the Republic or for the mainland.
What we have seen is that the applicants from higher-income groups have a choice - either to leave or stay locally, but those less fortunate do not.
Research by Mark Farr of Experien using Universities and Colleges Admissions Service data shows very clearly that student mobility (and thus choice) is very strongly correlated to income group. In short, students from poor backgrounds apply locally and to relatively few HE institutions.
This surely raises many public policy issues regarding student support and the regional availability of disciplines/courses, particularly in specialist areas.
David Roberts Chief executive, Heist