The impact of global economic changes has been to boost the premium attached to high skills. As the UK’s most globalised city, London has been particularly exposed to the transformations towards a skilled economy. The response, in a process that has been mirrored across the UK and much of the world, has been a sharp rise in the number of Londoners obtaining degree level qualifications. Higher education has shifted from being a minority pursuit to a mass expectation, yet the prevailing social inequality in London suggests that is it not accessible to all.
London's Calling analyses data from 2010 UCAS applications to map the pattern of access to higher education in London today; it analysis residence based data and examines data from 181 London schools. It uses a new behavioural economics framework to understand the key drivers of young people’s decision about applying for university and employs a cost-benefit model to estimate the value of improving access fro London’s young people. The report finds that there are clear disparities between groups from different backgrounds in both the likelihood of applying and the likelihood of being accepted for university and for research-intensive universities.
The report highlights that, in the face of overseas competition, it is economically important to further expand London’s pool of high skill workers. In an increasingly skills centric economy, Government needs to better understand how decisions about participating in London are made by young people from all backgrounds. In a knowledge-based economy, individuals, businesses and cities must complete more vigorously on the basis of skill. London must build on its efforts to improve access to higher education to give both Londoners, and London, a better chance in the race to the top.
Centre for London looks at higher education and social mobility in the capital.