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All young people should get the chance to enjoy the university experience

I have spoken many times before about my desire to get more teenagers from Ashfield into university, writes Gloria De Piero MP.

In 2017, just 24 per cent of 18-year-olds from Ashfield applied for a place to study at university.

Gloria De Piero with Prof Edward Peck of Nottingham Trent University

Gloria De Piero with Prof Edward Peck of Nottingham Trent University

To compare, in Rushcliffe, the figure was 54 per cent.

I recently met with Prof Edward Peck, the vice-chancellor of Nottingham Trent University (NTU), about this issue.

In the past three years, 670 of its students have come from Ashfield, which is seven per cent of all of its Nottinghamshire-based students.

More than 350 of these joined directly from an Ashfield school.

The university does outreach work in Ashfield schools, which I think is a vital step in increasing awareness that university is for normal, working class kids too.

I was pleased to see that 26 per cent of NTU’s Ashfield students are from families on incomes of less than £15,000 per year.

It was also interesting to see that neighbouring Nottingham North, where just 19 per cent of 18-year-olds applied to go to university last year, sent 1,311 students to NTU in the past three years, with 58 per cent being from families on incomes of less than £15,000 per year.

I will be visiting NTU to speak to Ashfield students in the autumn to find out what they have to say about going to university and why so many of their peers don’t go.

University has the power to transform your life and I want to see more Ashfield students go and benefit from this experience.

I have been working with Yvette Cooper and other Labour MPs on the newly-launched Labour Towns Group, which aims to highlight and correct the bias that this country has towards cities.

Cities attract more jobs, better jobs, better public transport and even more lottery funding than towns like Sutton, Eastwood and Kirkby

Residents of towns are getting a raw deal and the country is currently overlooking a lot of economic and cultural potential because of this imbalance.

I am pleased to be part of this important group that will make a difference.