New data has revealed that Sheffield Hallam enrolled the most students from “low participation” neighbourhoods out of all UK universities over academic year 2019/20.
This is the fifth consecutive year Sheffield Hallam has topped the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s leaderboards with 1,305 students marking a record high for the university, seeing a 130 student growth over academic year 2018/19.
Following the government’s grading fiasco in summer 2020, Sheffield Hallam was one of many universities to introduce further flexibility to their application process by lowering grades and accepting edge-case students with altered offers.
Veronica Razaghi, a Hallam student from Bolton, said: “I had a horrific application process. My first choice was Liverpool and I would have got in if I got the grades my teachers gave me, but they downgraded me from CCC to DDE. Even Hallam originally declined me.
“The only way I managed to get in was because I had an email address of the woman who interviewed me at Hallam. She really helped me and gave me a place on a foundation year, so at least next year I can get on the course I originally wanted.”
According to the study, 23 percent of Hallam’s students were from disadvantaged neighbourhoods, creating a far more diverse learning environment than the UK average of 12 percent.
The university’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Chris Husbands, said: “I am extremely proud that Sheffield Hallam continues to lead the way in removing barriers and opening up opportunities, making it possible for those from all backgrounds to choose higher education and shape their own futures.”
This is in part due to the work of the university’s Widening Participation and Outreach team who work with schools, colleges, and charities to spread understanding of higher education to disadvantaged areas. They put on events and create online resources such as the UNI4U@Home page which contains easy-to-access advice on application, accommodation, and student finance for prospective students.
The study suggests that more polytechnic and metropolitan universities accept students from low participation neighbourhoods than Russell Group universities. To contrast Hallam’s 23 percent, the University of Sheffield’s student-base is made of around 11 percent of disadvantaged students.