Cambridge University claims increase in state school admissions

Henry Pritchard – News Reporter 23 May 2013

Cambridge admissions chiefs have announced this week that the number of state school students accepted to the University has gone up five per cent. This news comes despite the increase in tuition fees in 2012 that has seen students pay three times as much as before, to a maximum of 9k a year.

This increase has been welcomed by many, not least the University, who have reportedly invested 2.7m on outreach programmes across the country, as well as independent initiatives set up by many of the Colleges. These moves, partly motivated by fears that the tuition fee changes might put off prospective students from poorer backgrounds applying, have seemed to yield some results, with the proportion of state school applicants rising to 63.3 per cent.

However, there is still evidence that privately educated students are disproportionately represented at Cambridge, at 36.7 per cent of the undergraduate intake. Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), which show that almost 90 per cent of university starters nationally are state-educated, illustrate a remaining public school leaning in Cambridge.

Mimi Shaul, a first-year Engineer at Robinson, was pleased by the figures, saying: “I am glad that the University is working to persuade people to not be too daunted by the fee increases. State school students like me should not be put off applying, because the scheme allows you time to get a good income before repayments start.”

Mike Sewell, Director of Admissions at Cambridge, said the University “works hard to reach talented and ambitious students throughout the UK”, and that its “commitment to fair admissions makes this available to students from all backgrounds.”

He also emphasised that “academic excellence” was the qualifier for a successful application, making clear that, while committed to a fair, open and diverse admissions system, Cambridge want the most evidentially intelligent students. Challenges remain as to the level of applicants from ethnic minority backgrounds and the level of female applications which are still outweighed by male applicants, although they did increase to 16 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.

Henry Pritchard – News Reporter