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University success partly down to genetics, study finds

Genes play a significant role in what university a student chooses and how well they do academically, researchers at King’s College London have claimed.

Using data from the Twins Early Development Study, funded by the Medical Research Council, academics discovered that genetics accounted for 51 per cent of the difference in whether students choose to go to university. They also found that genetics accounted for 57 per cent of the difference in the quality of students’ chosen university; this falls to 47 per cent after controlling for the effect of past academic achievement.

By studying 3,000 pairs of identical and non-identical twins in the UK and 3,000 other individuals, the researchers were able to determine the overall impact of genetics on measures such as exam scores. For example, if identical twins’ results are more alike than those of non-identical twins, it implies a genetic influence is at play, the researchers said. While studies examining the role of genetics in academic success have been carried out in the past, this is the first to test genetic influence on university choice and attainment.

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