The underrepresentation of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils in higher education

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) children and young people face significant barriers throughout their education, which results in them being severely underrepresented in HE. Perhaps because there is still an urgent need to address the issues faced by these groups in primary and secondary education, there is limited existing research on Gypsies’, Roma and Travellers’ progression to university. However, to achieve educational equality for these groups they must be given the same choice and opportunity as their peers from other backgrounds. The first step towards increasing equality in HE is to investigate how issues in compulsory education impact on progression to HE to understand and address specific barriers which reduce GRT pupils’ participation in HE.

This report, commissioned by King’s College London, and co-authored with my LKMco colleagues Ellie Mulcahy, Loic Menzies and Kate Bowen-Viner, presents a summary of the current landscape and a review of the barriers to HE faced by Gypsies, Roma and Travellers. We draw on existing literature and our own research with academics, practitioners, members of the GRT communities and pupils to explore:

  • The definition of ‘Gypsy, Roma and Traveller’ and the various sub-groups described by this collective term
  • How these groups are distributed in the national and pupil population
  • Their current progress and attainment throughout primary and secondary education
  • The degree to which they are underrepresented in HE
  • The challenges and barriers they face in compulsory education which may impact on their participation in HE
  • The specific barriers they face in entering HE.

Throughout the report, we point towards potential responses to the challenges and make recommendations for schools, HEIs and for further research.

We launched the report at the 2017 Brilliant Club Annual Conference, and we received coverage on BBC Breakfast and in The Times and Schools Week.

The full report and research brief are available from the LKMco website.