Cambridgeshire is suffering from educational inequality, warns new analysis

PEOPLE living in the North East Cambridgeshire and Peterborough constituencies are five times more likely to have no qualifications than people living in Cambridge, according to analysis of national data released today (Friday) by the University and College union (UCU).

The analysis reveals a stark north/south divide in the county of people without qualifications. The worst three performing constituencies, North East Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and North West Cambridgeshire, are all in the north of the county.

Around 15% of people in North East Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have no qualifications, compared to fewer than 3% of people in Cambridge – the county’s best performing constituency, which is ranked number six in Britain.

The union ranked the 632 parliamentary constituencies in England, Scotland and Wales according to the percentage of working age people (16-64) who have no qualifications.

The contrasts are extreme with some constituencies such as Glasgow East and Birmingham Hodge Hill showing more than one in three people with no qualifications, compared to just one in 50 in others such as Brent North and Romsey and Southampton North.

UCU said that the areas with the lowest levels of qualifications were most likely to suffer from a cocktail of coalition policies that will restrict access to education:

· Education maintenance allowances for teenagers have been axed

· Up to 300,000 adults on inactive benefits are set to face prohibitive charges of £1,000 a year to study

· Tuition fees have tripled and are now the highest public university fees in the world

· Fees and loans are to be introduced for working adults who want to retrain

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “The north/south divide in Cambridgeshire demonstrates the stark differences that can be found in neighbouring constituencies across Britain. Education is central to our country’s future, yet in some areas thousands of people still have no qualifications.

“There is a real danger that children growing up in places where it is not unheard of to have no qualifications will have their ambition blunted and never realise their full potential.

“The government needs to urgently revisit its education policies if we are to really offer improved life chances to all. Introducing fees for people on benefits who wish to study, for example, is incredibly counterproductive. We should be encouraging people to strive for qualifications, not pricing them out.”