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Family Background and University Success: seminar and book launch Monday 5 December

By Nuffield Foundation

The Nuffield Foundation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies are hosting a seminar on Monday 5 December (13.30 – 16.30) to bring together the latest quantitative evidence on the size of the socio-economic gaps in university access and success in England, and what drives them.

The seminar will launch a new book from leading higher education specialists from the IFS and UCL Institute of Education including presentations from Anna Vignoles, Lorraine Dearden, Claire Crawford, and John Micklewright. A panel discussion will feature responses from:

  • Professor Nicholas Barr, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Professor Les Ebdon CBE DL, Office for Fair Access
  • Dr Chris Wilson, The Brilliant Club
Social mobility and higher education

Individuals who go to university still earn substantially more, on average, than those who don’t. But the socio-economic status of your parents may affect how likely you are to go to university – and how well you do once there. In this case higher education may strengthen, rather than weaken, the links between the circumstances in which you grow up and your own socio-economic status as an adult, thus undermining the government’s aim of increasing social mobility.

Launch of a major new study from leading Higher Education specialists 

The presentations will be based on the findings of a major new study, Family Background and University Success, by Claire Crawford, Lorraine Dearden, John Micklewright and Anna Vignoles, published by Oxford University Press. Drawing on research funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the authors dissect in a concise, clear way why exactly is it that young people from poorer families in England are less likely to go to university than their counterparts in richer families, the impact of the 2006 and 2012 funding reforms, who does best at university once they are there, and who succeeds in the labour market following graduation.

This event is invitation only. To request a place, please email

By Nuffield Foundation

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We improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in EducationWelfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We offer our grant-holders the freedom to frame questions and enable new thinking. Our research must stand up to rigorous academic scrutiny, but we understand that to be successful in effecting change, it also needs to be relevant to people’s experience.