GUEST COLUMN: Is university an option? by Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero

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I was the first person in my family to go to university and I know that this will be the case for a lot of the students from Ashfield who are waiting for their A-level results so they can confirm their uni places.

Going to university is a life-changing experience, not just because you will come out with a degree which will open many, many career doors which would otherwise be shut to you, but because of the people you meet and the opportunities you get.

However statistics just released by UCAS – the University and College Admission Service – show that in 2015, just 17.8 per cent of all 18-year- olds from Ashfield entered higher education.

That puts this area in the bottom 42 constituencies of all 650 in the UK and is the second lowest in the whole of the East Midlands.

In leafy Rushcliffe, 40 per cent of 18-year-olds went to university.

The data doesn’t tell us why so few Ashfield teens are going to university, but I know from speaking to teachers that the fear of getting into debt puts off many.

I completely understand this.

After the Tory-led coalition allowed institutions to set tuition fees at £9,000 a year, the debts students graduate with these days are eye-watering.

I was furious that this was allowed to happen and I am furious that maintenance grants to help poorer students cover the living costs of being away at university were scrapped by the Tories earlier this year.

That is why I raised this issue again in Parliament last week.

Labour is committed to helping people from ordinary backgrounds get on in life and is totally against any legislation that makes it more difficult for young people from normal backgrounds like my own to achieve their potential.

I would love to hear from any local students who have decided to go - or not go - to university and why. Email me at

The community spirit in Ashfield is one of the things I love the most about the area.

People are great at working together for a common cause which is why when I heard tha construction company Actavo is running a competition to win £2,000 worth of building materials, equipment or labour, I thought I should let you all know about it.

To enter, all you need to do is visit and fill in the form, give a short description of the project and explain why it would be a worthy winner of the prize.

The competition closes at midnight on Friday August 12, 2016, so good luck!

As ever contact me with any issues.

Email me at