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Podcast: Live from Wonkfest 2019

This week on the podcast, live from Wonkfest 2019, our guests reflect on two amazing days of wonkery and chat the election and industrial action
This article is more than 2 years old

News and analysis of higher education from our leading team of wonks.


This week live from Wonkfest our guests reflect on two intense days of higher education wonkery. We also chat the coming general election and UCU’s impending industrial action.

With Andrea Burrows, MD at OES; Mary Curnock-Cook, Independent Education Expert; Jonathan Simons, Director at Public First; and Wonkhe’s CEO Mark Leach.

Yes, but does it correlate?

Some underappreciated data this week – last year the Sutton Trust published data collected by Michael Donnelly and Sol Gamsu showing the percentage of students who commute a short distance to university from their home address. I’ve compared this to the KPI on the percentage of students at each provider from low participation backgrounds. It’s the most recent year of data for each, and the plot is for England only.

So – are providers that widen access to HE recruiting students who live locally. Does it correlate?

There is no correlation whatsover. R squared is a jaw dropping 0.005, with P at 0.41 So absolutely no relationship between these two measures.

This surprised me a lot. But the graph is fascinating. Providers like Staffordshire, Teeside, Bradford and Wolverhampton fit the classic pattern of recruiting local students from low-HE experience backgrounds. But compare this to Hull and Leeds Beckett, who recruit students with no HE background, but nationally.

The other two quadrants feature the classic “selective” providers at the bottom left – Oxford and Cambridge, but also South Bank. And at the bottom right several London based providers – London Met, Westminster, Middlesex – recruit local students but not so much those from low HE experience backgrounds.

The plot is on the show page as always, and data is from HESA and the Sutton Trust. And where the data doesn’t exist… I’ve not plotted it!

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