This paper explores the characteristics of a recent generation of ‘first in the family’ (FiF) university graduates in England using a nationally representative dataset, Next Steps (formerly the Longitudinal study of Young People in England, LSYPE) to provide the first comprehensive, descriptive statistics on this group.
The researchers identify the proportion of FiF young people at age 25 as compared to their peers who either match their parents’ education level (either with degree or without degree) or are downwardly mobile, meaning their parent(s) has a university degree, but they do not.
The results show that that 15 per cent of young people aged 25 in 2015 in England are FiF, comprising nearly half of all university graduates of this cohort. We find that girls are more likely than boys to be FiF, as are young people of Indian and Black Caribbean origin, in line with current and historical trends in HE participation.
FiF students are less likely to study at elite institutions, but no more likely to drop out, once we control for their previous attainment. The researchers also find that FiF students have greater odds of studying for a Law, Economics and Management degree rather than the ‘harder’ subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.
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