The north-south divide in numbers

London and its commuter belt are pulling away from the rest of the country … Coastal areas and industrial towns are becoming real social mobility coldspots

There are now more than twice as many secondary schools judged to be inadequate in the North and Midlands (98) compared with the South and East (44), and of the 10 worst performing local authority areas, seven were north of The Wash

Secondary schools have improved, but the gap between the North and Midlands and the rest of the country has not narrowed, in fact, it has widened slightly

All but one of the 20 councils that send the most state-school children to the top universities in England are based in London or the south … [T]he 20 authorities that send the fewest to the top 30 universities are mainly in the north and the Midlands

Percentage of disadvantaged students reaching university by parliamentary constituency

Sutton Trust, 2015

Bottom Five
Newcastle upon Tyne Central; Newcastle upon Tyne East; Newcastle upon Tyne North
Isle of Wight
LowestHemsworth; Wakefield; Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford

Constituencies shown in red are in the north of England

In 2014, Cambridge accepted more undergraduates from China and Singapore than from the whole of Yorkshire, Humberside and the North East

— Linacre Institute analysis

In 2014, all the comprehensives in Yorkshire, the Humber and North East combined sent 90 students to Cambridge – fewer than from three schools in the South East (Eton, Westminster, St Paul’s: 91)

— Linacre Institute analysis

Yorkshire and the North East make up 12.5% of the UK’s total population but in 2014 and 2013 only 2% of Cambridge students came from comprehensives in these areas

— - Linacre Institute analysis

Northern regions send proportionally very few students to Oxford and Cambridge. In 2014 the North East scored 4.7 acceptances per 100,000 population, and Yorkshire scored 5.6. This put them 8th and 9th in the table of 10 regions. The South East was top, with 15.6 acceptances

— Linacre Institute analysis

High achievers [3Bs +] at independent schools (73%) were more likely to apply to the most selective universities, followed by those at grammar schools (53%) and other state schools and colleges (42%)

— ‘Tracking the Decision-making of High Achieving Higher Education Applicants’ Sutton Trust and Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, 2012. Full report

There should be more sustained and intensive support for these high-achieving young people, so that they can gain entry to the selective universities for which they are qualified

Almost a third (31%) of high-flyers [in leading professions] went to Oxbridge, and another fifth attended another leading university.

Some 62% of high-flyers in the diplomatic service are Oxbridge graduates, along with 58% of those in the law, and 55% of those at the top of the civil service.

Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said: “This analysis shows how dominant leading universities and schools remain across the professions in Britain. That’s why it is so important that access to our leading schools and universities is on the basis of ability alone

The study also suggests that the differences in the admissions rates to highly selective universities cannot be attributed solely to the schools’ average A-level or equivalent results

Of the 100 comprehensives who sent the highest proportion of their students to to Sutton Trust 30 universities, just 16 are in the north of England

Professor Danny Dorling has pointed out that, in terms of who gets university places, "geography is a better predictor than social class or income"

Research from the access regulator Offa indicates the richest 20% of young people are seven times more likely to enter the most selective institutions than the poorest 40%

The analysis shows that while there have been substantial increases in participation among the least advantaged 40 per cent of young people across higher education overall compared to the mid-1990s, the participation rate among the same group of young people at the top third of selective universities has remained almost flat over the same period. Furthermore, increases in the participation rate of the most advantaged over the same period have led to relative differences in participation at these institutions increasing: the most advantaged 20 per cent of the young population were around six times more likely to attend in the mid-1990s but this increased to around seven times more likely by the mid-2000s

— What more can be done to widen access to highly selective universities? A Report from Sir Martin Harris, Director of Fair Access, April 2010, p16 and 17

The map shows the percentage of university-goers who reach an ‘elite’ institution. Each hexagon represents one parliamentary constituency comprising roughly the same number of people