Cambridge falls far behind in new access figures

Image credit: Geograph

According to figures published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), Cambridge University was shown have some of the poorest access statistics in the UK. Over 130 universities were compared in this study, which used admissions figures from 2016 to rate the accessibility of Britain’s top universities.

In response to the figures, a spokesman for Cambridge University commented to the BBC that the analysis relies on one single measure, saying that “widening participation in higher education is a complex issue.”  Cambridge welcomed "different interpretations of the data"

Anglia Ruskin University, also in Cambridge, ranked within the top 10, alongside other former polytechnic universities such as Leeds Beckett and York St John.

Though renowned for their academic success, the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol and St Andrews found themselves at the bottom of these league tables, in spite of an increasing number of access initiatives aimed at getting more students from poorer backgrounds into higher education.

This report was based on Participation of Local Areas (Polar) university admissions figures, the most useful tool for assessing social diversity at university. Polar works by creating five groups, called neighbourhoods. In an ideal world, says HEPI, universities would take an equal or near-equal fifth of its students from each neighbourhood in order to keep the balance of university students in proportion with the diversity of society.

Last year, learning charity Teach First released its own set of figures, comparing child poverty rates with university participation. Their research noted that students from wealthier areas were up to 18 times more likely to go to university than their less affluent peers.


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