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Representation of white working class boys in HE

Target parents and primary school pupils to get more white working class boys into university

A groundbreaking new report ‘The underrepresentation of white working class boys in higher education: the role of widening participation’ has been published today.

The report by education and youth think-and-action tank LKMco was commissioned by King’s College London’s Widening Participation Department, and explores why so few white working class boys progress to higher education and how this can be addressed. The report was guided and overseen by two King's academics Professor Kalwant Bhopal and Dr Mary-Claire Travers. Round table discussions were held to gather the expert opinion of widening participation practitioners, teachers and third sector leaders. The report examines root causes of under representation and what can be done to change patterns of higher education progression. 

Commenting on the report’s publication lead author and Director of Research at LKMco, Dr Sam Baars, said: ‘Low attainment at school accounts for much of the problem of low participation in higher education by white working class boys. However it does not explain it away. Likewise, higher tuition fees appear not to have driven participation rates downward. This report therefore digs beneath these factors and asks what it means to be a white working class boy and how this can make it more difficult to progress to higher education. We find that fears about the value of higher education in the workplace and a lack of knowledge about applications and interviews are important barriers to participation.’

Director of Widening Participation at King’s College London, Anne-Marie Canning, said: ‘This important report is essential in helping schools and universities improve the progression rates for white working class pupils to higher education. The report recommends that working with white working class pupils from an early age and engaging parents are key in ensuring all young people have the opportunity to participate in higher education.’

A formal launch for the report, attended by former Shadow Secretary of State for Education Tristram Hunt will take place at the Brilliant Club Annual Conference on Tuesday 19 July. Follow the conversation using the hashtag #TBCxKCL16.

More information

King’s College London is committed to finding the brightest minds regardless of their background and supporting them in accessing higher education. We believe our diverse student body enriches the education that we offer. Our website details the programmes and activities the Widening Participation Department provide for prospective students, teachers, parents and carers. @kclwp  0207 848 4132

For further information please contact the Public Relations department on or 0207 848 3202.

For further information about King's, visit the King's in Brief webpages