Cambridge University fails to attract more state school students

Luke Sweeney 4 April 2012

Figures released this week by the Higher Education Statistics Agency reveal that the University of Cambridge admitted fewer state school students in this year’s intake. The percentage of state school students admitted to the university fell from 59.3% in 2010 to 59% for the 2011 intake, despite a rise of over twenty per cent in the number of university applications for the final year before the introduction of £9,000 tuition fees.

However, the majority of Russell Group universities also gave fewer places to state educated students. One notable exception to this was Oxford, which managed to increase the percentage of state school students by 0.9% despite the failures of other universities to widen participation.

The figures also revealed that the percentage of students admitted to Cambridge from low participation neighbourhoods remained at 3.1% for the second year running, compared to a national average of over 10%.

CUSU Access Officer Taz Rasul told The Cambridge Student: “The stats for 2010 entry are not heartening to read – together with government policy, it sometimes feels like one step forward and two steps back. We need more great ideas for access and more money devoted towards it to make a big, positive impact on these continuously frustrating statistics.”

Sara Dalton, Access Officer at St. Catharine’s College stressed the importance of information for applicants: “The drop in state school admittance is perhaps an indication that many students and teachers are still not aware of the generous bursaries available at Cambridge. With the £9,000 p/a tuition fees now in place, continuing to inform prospective students of the financial advantages of studying here will be very important in ensuring that this drop is reversed over the coming years.”

Luke Sweeney