MERSEYSIDE'S working class youngsters are 60% less likely to go to university than children from the suburbs.
This finding is among a range of figures unearthed by Liverpool University's widening participation unit which reveals:
* More than half the wards in Liverpool, Knowsley and Halton send just 16% of their children to university - compared to 80% in the wealthiest areas.
* Just 24% of Merseyside's youngsters go to university. The nationwide figure is 42%.
* In some areas of Liverpool, just one in 20 residents is a graduate.
Tricia Jenkins, the woman in charge of getting some of the disillusioned youngsters into Liverpool University, has vowed to continue the institution's nationally-praised good work.
But Liverpool National Union of Teachers representative Julie Lyon-Taylor blamed government policies for creating the problem.
She said: "These children are being failed. Figures for working-class children going to university nationally are lower than they were after the war. Debts and fees are very frightening for working-class families. In Liverpool, families are very close-knit and students feel responsible if they build up debts."
Mrs Jenkins said she faced a mammoth task in reaching children who did not know what a university was.
She said the university was targeting primary school-age children to spark ambition early.
But she admitted: "It's very hard to be the only one who stays on at school and the first one in your family to go to university."
A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said the new university access regulator, OFFA, would work to encourage poorer students to raise their aspirations. She said: "Too many talented students from state schools and from the lowest income backgrounds do not think that a top university is for them."