Census 2021: A quarter of people in Wigan have a higher education qualification

A quarter of people in Wigan have the highest level of qualifications, new census figures show.

The Higher Education Policy Institute said the figures, which show significantly different levels of education across England and Wales, highlight the importance of investment in education.

Office for National Statistics data shows that when the most recent census was carried out in March 2021, 25.8 per cent of people in Wigan had a level 4 or higher qualification – such as a degree, postgraduate qualification, higher national certificate or diploma.

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Office for National Statistics data shows that when the most recent census was carried out in March 2021, 25.8 per cent of people in Wigan had a level 4 or higher qualification – such as a degree, postgraduate qualification, higher national certificate or diploma

Nationally, 33.8 per cent of people aged 16 years and older stated they had a level 4 qualification or above.

At the other end of the scale, 21.1 per cent said they had no qualification in 2021 – above the national level of 18.2 per cent.

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Census deputy director Jon Wroth-Smith said the data shows London came out on top with the highest proportion of people with a level 4 or above qualification – nearly half the capital’s residents hold a higher-level certificate or degree.

“The region with the lowest proportion of people with Level 4 or above qualifications was the North East, with the East Midlands at a similar level, while the region with the highest proportion of people with no qualifications was the West Midlands, around one in five adults,” Mr Wroth Smith added.

Wandsworth had the most people with the highest qualifications outside of the City of London – 62.6 per cent. It was followed by Richmond (60.4), Kensington and Chelsea (59.5), Westminster (57.7), and Hammersmith (57.6).

For areas with the highest proportion of people with no qualification, Sandwell (28.9 per cent) took the lead. It was followed by Blaenau Gwent (27.9), Boston (27.6), Merthyr Tydfil (26.9), and Leicester (26.7).

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Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute think tank, said: “The numbers are stark. While they show how amazingly well-educated Londoners are relative to other areas, they also highlight the importance of education in true levelling up.

“London does well partly because people move there but also because the education system in the capital is very good, thanks to conscious decisions by policymakers over many years.

“If other areas are to compete with London, they need similar levels of investment and commitment. The jury is out on whether that is likely to happen given recent political changes.”