UPDATE - Access to Higher Education for the GRT (Gypsy, Roma and Traveller) Community

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A new research brief to revisit the data and review progress being made in extending higher education opportunities to those from Gypsy, Romany and Traveller communities.


In 2019, we commissioned Professor Graeme Atherton to examine whether the focus in recent years on the inequalities that GRT communities face, together with changes in how widening access work is delivered, has led to improved access to higher education (HE) activities for this group of learners.

We have now asked Graeme Atherton to revisit and review his last piece of work to look for signs of progress made and will publish a new research brief in early 2022.

The previous report ‘More than luck: enabling access and success in Higher Education for Gypsy, Romany and Traveller (GRT) communities’ is available to download here, but key findings included:

* From 2009-10 to 2018-19, the percentage of school pupils who are Travellers of Irish heritage entering HE by age 19 had declined by 1.1%, while for Gypsy, Roma young pupils it had increased marginally by 1.8% but had declined by 0.2% since 2016-17. Given that overall participation had risen by 8.6% since 2009-10, the proportion of students entering HE from Gypsy/Roma background by this measure is shrinking.

* Of the Access and Participation Plans (APPs) covering 2020-21 to 2024-25, which outline what higher education providers do to extend access to their institutions, none contain any targets to increase entry rates for students from GRT communities or support their success on entry. Only 5% of these plans include any reference to GRT communities at all.

* London has the highest number of learners aged 18-30 from any region in England progressing to HE, and nearly 70% of learners from London going to HE are from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. However, only two London HE providers mention GRT communities in their Access and Participation Plans.

Our research continues to guide our grantmaking, a relevant example being our recent support for the Traveller Learning Mentor at Oxford Gardens Primary School. Further updates will be published here on our website.