Students from high attaining comprehensive schools are far less likely to attend top universities than those from independent schools. So say the Sutton Trust in their report ‘Degree of Success’.


Just focusing on Oxbridge entrants, they found that:

“2,000 schools and colleges had two or fewer Oxbridge entrants over the three years… just under two thirds of all schools and colleges, and accounted for 5.6% of Oxbridge admissions over the three years. The total number of Oxbridge entrants from these 2,000 schools and colleges over the three years is less than the number from 4 schools and one college who produced 946 Oxbridge entrants over the period.”

What proportion of these applications are accepted?

“5.2% of independent school pupils were accepted by Oxford and Cambridge, compared with 0.8% of pupils in non selective state schools, and 4.2% in selective state schools.”

Sutton Trust conclude that “independent school pupils are nearly seven times as likely as pupils in comprehensive schools to be accepted into Oxbridge.”

The Times Educational Supplement commenting on wider university acceptance rates included in the report saythere is something terribly wrong when a comprehensive school with the same scores as a local independent sends 17% of it’s pupils to top universities compared to 66% sent by its neighbour.”

But what do we as a nation do to correct this? Surely bright children from poor backgrounds should be given the same chance as kids from more affluent backgrounds? Can we expect much to change anytime soon? My belief is that increasing tuition fees will only serve to reduce state school applications still further, and that without proactive selection procedures at Oxbridge, nothing is likely to change.


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Laura is a Francophile with a passion for literature and linguistics. She also loves skiing, cooking and painting.