Higher education in England has expanded rapidly in the last ten years with the result that currently more than 30% of young people go on to university. Expansion is likely to continue following the recommendations of a national committee of inquiry (the Dearing Committee). The participation rate is known to vary substantially among social groups and between geographical areas. In this paper the participation rate is calculated using a new measure, the Young Entrants Index (YEI), and the extent of variation by region, gender and residential neighbourhood type established. The Super Pro®les geodemographic system is used to facilitate the latter. This is shown to be a powerful discriminator and to o¨er great potential as an alternative analytical approach to the conventional social class categories, based on parental occupation, that have formed the basis of most participation studies to date.
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