Understanding the changing gaps in higher education participation in different regions of England icon

Understanding the changing gaps in higher education participation in different regions of England

Research shows that prior educational attainment and ethnicity are important predictors of participation in higher education. However, even when these are accounted for, some areas have much higher or lower levels of participation than would be expected, suggesting other factors are also at play.  The aim of this study was to explore what these factors might be.

The project was carried out in collaboration with widening participation expert Professor Liz Thomas and behavioural economics expert Professor Jennifer Roberts and investigated eight local areas across England. As well as a review of literature on the topic, we carried out primary qualitative research (focus groups and individual interviews) with young people aged 13 to 18, parents and stakeholders such as schools,  colleges, employers and careers advisers. This was supplemented with analysis of data from the Longitudinal Survey of Young People in England (LYSPE). Overall, this gave us an excellent understanding of the different influences on career and education decision-making including peers, family, teachers, careers advice and the media as well as environmental and cultural factors.

Lindsey Bowes image

Key project contact

Lindsey Bowes

Lindsey joined CFE in 2008 and has been a member of the executive team since 2014. She has an established track record in the fields of higher education and career guidance, and particular expertise in access and participation, student financial aid and student decision-making. Lindsey regularly works with policy makers, sector bodies and higher education providers to understand the effectiveness and impact of national programmes. Her research has informed policy at a local and national level including the National Strategy for Access and Student Success and the careers strategy: Making the most of everyone’s skills and talents. Lindsey also supports the access and participation community to develop its capacity to evaluate the impact of its work.


Contact: lindsey.bowes@cfe.org.uk