THE NUMBER of students from Corringham and Fobbing, with good exam results, going on to university, is one of the lowest in the country.
A study by England’s Higher Education Funding Council found that school leavers in many areas, including those with large numbers of middle-class families, were failing to move on to university despite achieving good exam grades.
For the first time, researchers linked performance at school with progress towards degree courses to identify areas that were sending disproportionally small numbers of pupils into higher education.
The study found cities such as Leeds and Birmingham had large numbers of university places but relatively few local school leavers taking degrees than would be expected given their average GCSE results.
But it emerged that many rural areas, including those in the Home Counties, featured high on a list of academic "cold spots".
In Corringham and Fobbing, just 25.6 per cent of school leavers went to university over a five-year period. It was 17.7 percentage points lower than the 43.4 per cent who would be expected to go, given the academic performance of pupils.
Other areas around the country included: Dorchester East, Dorset with just 31.3 per cent of pupils going into higher education – 16.8 percentage points lower than expected.
In Box Hill and Headley, Surrey, just 25 per cent of pupils went on to university between 2006 and 2010, which was 14.6 percentage points lower than would be expected given the performance of children at school.
The funding council said the disparity was partly down to the "particularly low" level of higher education provision "in some rural and coastal areas". This makes it hard for students to access courses, it was claimed.
Universities and colleges are now being urged to use the data to identify "higher education cold spots" where more efforts could be made to recruit students. This could include the creation of new wholly new campuses.
It follows claims from David Willetts, the former Universities Minister, that universities should create satellite campuses to increase the number of school leavers taking degree-level qualifications and boost local economies.
Madeleine Atkins, the funding council’s chief executive, said: "The data shows us that the issues associated with HE cold spots can often be complex. Higher education providers… will be able to use this powerful new toolkit to establish a detailed picture of HE in their localities, enabling them to identify any gaps in provision, participation and the supply of graduates."
The report also found that some areas sent disproportionately high numbers of students to university given their school results. In Hebron, Hepscott and Mitford, Northumberland, 66.7 per cent of school leavers progressed on to higher education, which was 15.2 percentage points higher than expected.
Hebron close to Morpeth, in the North East