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The forgotten white teenagers 'left behind' in ex-industrial and coastal towns


Poor white teenagers in Britain's post-industrial and coastal towns are the least likely group to go to university, a watchdog has warned.

The Office for Students, an independent regulator for higher education said such youngsters - and their home communities - have been 'left behind'.

People in 'left-behind town' feel the decline of local institutions and civic engagement, and 'the propaganda that used to help shape identity and ambitions', the regulator found via focus groups.

The research suggests such attitudes are not about low aspirations or parents wanting any less for their children but rather expectations, with many taking a realistic assessment of the barriers to getting on. 

To that end, the rate of progression into higher education for white British students who are eligible for free school meals is only 16 per cent. 

This compares with rates of 47 to 73 per cent for Asian students on free school meals and 32 to 59 per cent for black students in this category. 

The watchdog has tried to identify how a combination of factors including race, poverty, place and gender affects the likelihood of progression into higher education.

Its new combined measure found white teenagers eligible for free school meals, or from disadvantaged backgrounds, made up 90 per cent of those in the bottom fifth of youngsters likely to go to university.  

The findings come as MPs have launched an investigation into low attainment among white working class pupils.