School leavers from the North East are some of the least likely to go to university in England, according to new research.
Figures released today by admissions agency Ucas have shown that a school leaver's chances of going to university depend heavily on where they live.
The region though has seen an increase in the number of young people going on to higher education.
On average, a third (33.3 per cent) of 18-year-olds in England went on to study for a degree this autumn, the statistics show.
A breakdown reveals significant regional differences.
The highest university entry rate was in London, where more than two fifths of 18-year-olds (41.8 per cent) were accepted on to degree courses this autumn.
"This means 18-year-olds from London were more likely than 18-year-olds anywhere else in England (and the UK more generally) to be accepted into higher education this year," Ucas said.
The South East had the second highest entry rate, at 33.7 per cent.
Every other English region had entry rates lower than the overall rate for the nation, the Ucas figures show, although in each case, apart from one, the entry rate was over 30 per cent.
The region with the lowest proportion of school leavers going on to university this year was the South West at 28.9 per cent.
The figures for the other English regions were: North East, 30.3 per cent, North West 32.9 per cent, Yorkshire and the Humber 31.6 per cent, East Midlands 30.3 per cent, West Midlands 31.6 per cent and the East of England 32.9 per cent.
The statistics also show that Northern Ireland had an entry rate of 34.5 per cent, while in Wales it was 29.4 per cent and in Scotland 25.9 per cent - although Ucas does not record all higher education in Scotland.<
Clare Marchant, Ucas chief executive, said: "A common theme to emerge from our analysis of data from the 2017 cycle is that the entry rate of 18-year-olds to higher education has increased across all parts of the UK.
"This trend is most pronounced in London. There have been significant and much documented improvements to secondary education in the capital. Understanding how to replicate this high level of attainment could help drive increases in entry rates elsewhere."
The report though has highlighted the increase in the number of school leavers from the North East going on to study.
It says: "Along with the North East, London had the biggest increase in entry rate this year. InLondon the entry rate increased by 1.8 percentage points, and in the North East itincreased by 1.3 percentage points. This meant 18 year olds in both of these regionswere 4.6 per cent more likely to be accepted into higher education this year compared to last year."