Southerners travel to study

August 9, 1996

Britain is a divided country when it comes to educating its students More than half of applicants accepted for higher education from Wales chose to stay in Wales and 91 per cent of those from Scotland chose to stay in Scotland. Even England's north/south divide is evident, with nearly half the students from the North choosing to stay in their home region.

Midlanders and southerners are more adventurous with only about a third remaining at home, although 55 per cent of applicants accepted by Greater London universities and colleges claim to be Londoners.

An analysis by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service of applicants accepted for university last year found the choice of where to study was influenced by age, gender, ethnicity, method of entry to university, social class and subject. But there were variations between the 12 British regions.

The study found applicants from lower social classes were much more likely to study at home. More than 12 per cent of accepted applicants from the West Midlands were from the bottom two social classes while this was true of just under 7 per cent from the Southeast.

Ted Nield, spokesman for the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals, said poverty played a part in decisions about where to study. "It has always been held in the UK that living away from home is one of the formative experiences of university life," he said. "But since many students aren't 18-year-old school leavers one would expect this tendency to decrease."

Older applicants are more likely to remain in their home region than applicants under 21. Nearly 84 per cent of all UK-accepted applicants aged 40 or above stayed put in 1995 - more than 90 per cent in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Women are also most likely to remain home, especially between the peak child-rearing ages of 25 and 39.

Applicants wanting to study medicine and dentistry tended to leave home, partly because the subject is only available in a few institutions.

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