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UK Christian And Atheist Children Least Likely To Go To University


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
by Nick Collins

A study of more than 13,000 young people found that 77 per cent of those who described themself as Hindu at the age of 15 went on to higher education, compared with 45 per cent of Christians.

Some 63 per cent of Sikh teenagers and 53 per cent of Muslims went on to study at university, but just 32 per cent of those who had no religion at 15 undertook higher education.

The figures, produced by UK National Statistics for the Department for Education, add to a body of research which shows British white working-class pupils perform worse at school and are less likely to go to university than their Asian counterparts.

The Catholic Education Service said there were several factors unrelated to religion why Christians were the worst-performing religion in the survey.

A spokeswoman said: "Catholic Schools regularly outperform other schools in terms of levels of attainment at key stage two, GCSEs and A-levels. We also seek to encourage our kids to choose whatever line they would like, be it university, apprenticeships or work."

But the Muslim Council of Britain said it was happy that the survey reflected a "continuing trend" within the Muslim community to aspire to higher education.

Prof Steve Strand of Warwick University told the Times Educational Supplement that religion was a "proxy" for ethnicity.

He said: "The fact that white working-class pupils are the least likely to go to university and those from Asian groups are more likely has nothing to do with whether they are Christian or Hindu.

"It's to do with a number of factors, but [generally speaking] white working-class children and their parents often do not see the relevance of the curriculum or of attending university. Asian families, even if they are from difficult socio-economic backgrounds, see education as a way out."

Prajip Gajjar, a parent and key figure at the free Krishna-Avanti Primary School, which will open in Leicester in September, said the figures were not surprising.

He said: "It's an aspiration. Hindu parents all spend that additional time with their children in terms of engaging them with education, so it doesn't come as a surprise.

"It is part of the tradition: education, knowledge, they have always been there."




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