The government has edged closer towards its 50 per cent target for participation in higher education, according to figures published today.
The statistics show that in 2008-09, 45 per cent of young people aged 17 to 30 were attending or had attended university, up from 43 per cent the previous year. The proportion was considerably higher among women (51 per cent) than men (40 per cent).
David Lammy, minister for higher education, welcomed the figures, which he said showed that the government was “not complacent”.
“We remain determined to further open up university education to people from all backgrounds,” he said. “For this reason, and in response to the increase we have seen in the number of applications to higher education, we have announced funding for an additional 20,000 undergraduate places for 2010-11 in areas that are a priority for the economy.”
Mr Lammy was referring to the announcement of £250 million for science, technology, engineering and mathematics places made in last week’s Budget.
“These will be a mix of full-time, part-time and foundation places, reflecting the needs of the changing student body and increasing the number of young people able to go on to higher education still further,” he added.