Independent school students 7x more likely to get to Oxbridge

Date: 07.12.2018

State schools are still not competing well with independent schools whe nit comes to Oxbridge. Not surprising perhaps, given the cultral differences created by the huge disparity in resourcing, selection policies, parental expectation, number of hours in school, sanctions policies, different life experiences, etc. 

The Sutton Trust's new report, Access to Advantage shows that ittle has changed since it published Degrees of Success in 2011. In the UK, whether someone goes to university, and if so at which institution they study, is still highly impacted by an individual’s socioeconomic background, the school they attend and where in the country they are from. The report uses UCAS data to analyse university acceptance rates for the 2015-2017 cohorts by school type and region, and discusses what schools and universities can do to help close the gap in Higher Education participation rates in England.

Some key findings include:

  • Eight top schools had as many Oxbridge acceptances as another 2894 schools and colleges put together. This comes to about three quarters of all schools and colleges. The eight schools with the highest number of Oxbridge acceptances had 1310 between them over a three-year period, while 2894 schools and colleges with two or fewer acceptances had just 1220 acceptances between them.
  • Independent school pupils are 7 times more likely to gain a place at Oxford or Cambridge compared to those in non-selective state schools, and over twice as likely to take a place at Russell Group institutions.
  • The proportion of HE applicants from state schools in England who gain a place at Oxbridge differs substantially by region, with differences between the South and East of England compared to the rest of the country. Around 6% of HE applicants from the South East, South West, London and East of England went to Oxbridge, but only 3-4% of those from the North or the Midlands.

Sutton Trust's tips for schools:

  1. All pupils should receive a guaranteed level of careers advice from professional impartial advisers. For those facing disadvantage – or who are at risk of failing to reach their potential – there should be further support available, including being supported to undertake and reflect upon academic enrichment activities for the personal statement. The ‘Careers Leaders’ in schools, established by the government’s Careers Strategy, should ensure that key messages are consistent across staff and based on up to date guidelines.
  2. Advice should happen earlier, and include guidance on subject options at A level. Many young people are not getting the right advice when it comes to A level options. Students need more support at an earlier age, that can help them to make an informed choice on their A-level choices. This should include advice on ‘facilitating subjects’, favoured by Russell Group universities.

Download the report