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Rural deprivation must not be forgotten - Farron

August 5, 2016 5:25 PM

South Lakeland MP Tim Farron has warned the government against overlooking the problem of rural deprivation, as the latest data show that poorer students in Cumbria are less likely than elsewhere to make it to university.

Data released by the government this week measures the proportion of young people that end up going on to higher education, revealing a worrying gap between rich and poor. In Cumbria there is a difference of 22 percentage points between the proportion of pupils going on to higher education who were eligible for free school meals compared to their peers. This gap is significantly higher than the national average of 17 percentage points.

Poorer pupils in Cumbria are also less likely to make it to higher education at all - just 14% of Cumbrian pupils eligible for free school meals end up going on to higher education, compared to 22% nationally.

Tim said: "Young people from Cumbria should have the same life chances as students anywhere else. The government is not only letting our young people down, it is wasting their potential.

"The figures are evidence of what can be achieved when the government is determined to make a difference and provide proper investment. In London, the proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds is more than twice as high as it is in Cumbria, yet those students are almost three times as likely to go on to university.

"The government must recognise that it is not only in big cities that young people face real deprivation. Far more needs to be done to improve the life chances of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds."