Why Lancashire's students are among the nation's brainiest

Department for Education data shows 1,317 students who finished their 16 to 18 study in Lancashire in 2015-16 secured a spot at an university within two years
Department for Education data shows 1,317 students who finished their 16 to 18 study in Lancashire in 2015-16 secured a spot at an university within two years
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Around one in six Lancashire students secure spots at the UK’s leading universities – above the national average.

But social mobility charity the Sutton Trust warns that someone's chances of going to a top university, which it says is the surest route to a good job, differs significantly depending on where they grow up.

Department for Education data shows that 1,317 students who finished their 16 to 18 study in Lancashire in 2015-16 secured a spot at a Russell Group university within two years.

The group represents 24 elite universities considered to be among the UK’s best.

At 17 per cent of all students, this was above the 14 per cent across England to gain a coveted place at one of the institutions.

The figures only include those from state-funded schools and colleges who did A-level or equivalent qualifications, and who continuously studied at university for at least six months.

Those gaining a Russell Group place included one per cent who secured a spot at Oxford or Cambridge.

And 22 per cent of students entered one of the top third most competitive universities, ranked by the average exam results of entrants.

Overall, 4,493 students in Lancashire (58 per cent) went on to study a degree or equivalent course within two years.

Across England, 58 per cent of young people finishing their compulsory education in 2015-16 had spent at least six months on a degree or similar course within two years – 214,000 students.

This included 20 per cent at a top third destination, and just one per cent at Oxford or Cambridge.

But the figures differed widely throughout the country – 36 per cent of students in Reading, in the South East, went to a Russell Group university, while the number for Knowsley, in the North West, stood at just one per cent.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: “Getting a degree from a leading university is one of the surest routes to a good job.

“Yet these figures tell us that where you grow up has a significant impact on your chances of going.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that while the number of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who go to university has increased, it is still a lot fewer than those from wealthier groups.

He added: “The next government – whoever it is – must ensure that schools and colleges have the funding and supply of teachers they need to support these students.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “As a government, we have seen a record rate of disadvantaged 18 year olds going to university, and we have made it a priority to ensure that we continue to improve access and participation across the country.”