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The HEFCE report provides widening participation, non-continuation and employment indicators for higher education provision registered and taught at FECs. It shows widening participation and employment indicators for 2011-12 and 2012-13, and non-continuation indicators for 2010-11 and 2011-12.

While 10.9 per cent of young entrants to full-time first degrees registered at HEIs were from low-participation neighbourhoods (Note 1), this proportion was nearly 11 per cent lower than the equivalent proportion registered at FECs.

FECs also demonstrated improved performance related to non-continuation and employment compared with the previous two years. Although their rates were still lower than for HEIs, a greater number of FECs are above sector benchmarks (taking into account student profiles in terms of age, subject area of study and qualifications on entry).

Chris Millward Director of Policy, HEFCE, said:

‘This publication highlights the important contribution further education colleges make to widening access to higher education and supporting students through to successful outcomes. It recognises the positive role colleges make in supporting progression to higher education, particularly in areas where there is a shortage of higher education provision and where students are less mobile. And it highlights the positive progress that colleges have made over the last couple of years to support increasing numbers of their students through to successful completion. It is timely given the Government’s aim to double the number of students in higher education from disadvantaged backgrounds by 2020, and its ambitions for greater social mobility set out in the Green Paper. FECs have a clear role to play in meeting these ambitions, and HEFCE will continue to support them in making their contribution to this vital area of activity.’

An update to the publication is due later this year, to show performance indicators in FECs for 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Notes

1. Low-participation neighbourhoods: The Participation of Local Areas (POLAR) classification is based on rates of participation of young people in higher education. Two of its iterations, POLAR2 and POLAR3, are used in this report.

The POLAR2 and POLAR3 classifications are formed by ranking Census Area Statistics wards by their young participation rates. This gives five young participation groups (referred to as quintiles) ordered from ‘quintile 1’ (those wards with the lowest participation) to ‘quintile 5’ (those wards with the highest participation), each representing 20 per cent of the UK’s young cohort.

Students have been allocated to neighbourhoods on the basis of their home postcode. Those students whose postcode falls within wards with the lowest participation (quintile 1) are denoted as being from a low-participation neighbourhood.

More information on the POLAR2 and POLAR3 classifications and the files used in the mapping can be found on the HEFCE website.

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