PERFORMANCE indicators just published place Edge Hill among the top 10 higher education institutions in the country for supporting the Government?s drive to attract students from under-represented groups into higher education.

The statistics, published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), judge each institution?s records against national averages and sector benchmarks. The benchmark is the higher education sector average, adjusted for the subject mix of the institution and the entry qualifications of its students.

Edge Hill is placed:

? in the top 10 of 125 English institutions for attracting young students from state schools ? 98 per cent of Edge Hill undergraduates come from this background, against a national average of 86 per cent and a benchmark of 92 per cent;
? in the top 10 institutions for attracting young students from low participation neighbourhoods ? 23 per cent against a UK average of 13 per cent and a benchmark of 16 per cent;
? in the top 25 institutions for attracting young students from social classes IIIM, IV and V ? 35 per cent against a UK average of 26 per cent and a benchmark of 31 per cent.

Edge Hill also has an excellent record for attracting and retaining mature students. A total of 38 per cent of undergraduate entrants to Edge Hill are mature, and 33 per cent of these come from low participation neighbourhoods, having no previous experience of higher education. This compares to a UK average of 15 per cent and a benchmark of 20 per cent.

The indicators similarly show that students at Edge Hill have a significantly higher than average likelihood of gaining a degree.

Edge Hill?s “efficiency” ? a measure of the actual time to complete a degree compared with the idealised time ? at 88 per cent also significantly outperforms the sector norm (85 per cent) and benchmark (82 per cent).

Rhiannon Evans, Director for Students and External Relations, said: “Widening participation is at the heart of Edge Hill?s mission. We are proud of being able to attract students from a wide variety of backgrounds, who go on to gain a degree and enjoy a successful career.

“Edge Hill’s outstanding achievement against the current performance indicators complements that against the employment indicators published by the HEFCE last April. An independent audit of data confirmed that 97 per cent of Edge Hill’s 1999-2000 graduates were in employment or further study by the following January.

“We have developed a range of successful initiatives, including Fastrack, our intensive access course for adults, and residential summer schools for young people. We also work in partnership with schools and colleges and have more than 40 progression partnerships which seek to encourage young people from families without experience of higher education to apply to university or college.

“Edge Hill, with other Lancashire and Merseyside institutions, is working to raise aspirations by a wide range of motivational programmes, and also by working with parents to overcome perceived barriers to entering higher education.”