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'Missing' pupils ignored by top universities

17th June 2013

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A new report has shown that state school pupils achieving the grades to get into Russell Group universities are abandoned in favour of weaker privately educated students.

The report published by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has shown that on average a state school student who applies to a Russell Group university needs to achieve one grade higher than the privately educated counterpart.

This has led to almost 3,700 “missing” state-school school students who achieve the grades to get into Russell Group universities but do not get offered a place.

Despite recent attempts to make university admissions fair and accessible to pupils of all backgrounds, the report suggests that opportunities continue to be skewed towards those who are privately educated.

The Commission has shown that the most advantaged young people are “seven times more likely to attend the most selective universities as the most disadvantaged."

Although the numbers of state school pupils admitted to Russell Group universities has gone up by 2.6%, half of the new places have gone to the privately educated meaning that privately educated admissions has increased by 7.9%. 

This means that although there are some universities which have become more socially representative, overall top British universities have become less socially representative, not more.

The odds of a child at a state secondary school who is eligible for free school meals in Year 11 being admitted to Oxbridge by age 19 is almost two thousand to one against and within Oxbridge and Durham there were under 60% state school pupils admitted in the 2011/12 academic year. 

The report urges Britain’s most selective universities to “ensure they are recruiting from the widest possible pool of talent."

Alan Milburn, the government’s social mobility guru, said: “It is clear that there is an increasing determination on the part of our universities to their bit in creating a Britain that is more socially mobile.

However the report shows that there is still a long way to go before Britain’s university admissions is classless.

Dr. Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, said: “Ultimately too few students from some state schools get the right grades in the right subjects and even those who do are less likely to apply to leading universities."



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