Oxford targets Britain's top private schools

More than a fifth of Oxford University's "outreach" events, designed to encourage applicants from non-traditional backgrounds, were put on for pupils at independent schools over the past two years.

Some of the country's most elite schools, including Eton, St Paul's, Winchester and Rugby, feature on a list of access events obtained under Freedom of Information legislation by The Independent. While the university staged 945 events at community schools, plus hundreds more at grammar and other kinds of state-sector schools, it also targeted private schools on 770 occasions – 21 per cent of the total.

The statistics also reveal that most of the state schools that Oxford contacts have a lower than average number of pupils on free school meals, a common measure of deprivation. Three-fifths of the schools have less than 10 per cent of pupils on free school meals. The national average is 13.4 per cent.

The private school to benefit most from Oxford's attention was Manchester Grammar School, with fees of £9,000 a year. The university organised 18 events there, including visits from different colleges and an economics presentation.

Universities are facing increased pressure to broaden access and increase the provision of bursaries to students from underprivileged backgrounds. The Government is likely to demand more such initiatives if tuition fees rise to £9,000 a year.

David Willetts, minister for Universities, said last week that any tuition fee agreement would "be expected to include activities such as outreach initiatives to attract more pupils to apply from disadvantaged backgrounds".

On the "widening access" page of Oxford's website, the university states that "particular focus is given to seeking out more applications from highly able students from groups who do not typically apply to Oxford. New data is enabling us to refocus our widening access programmes for students from state schools and colleges with low rates of applications to the university."

Yet the private schools Oxford is targeting already send a large proportion of their students to the university.

The university held five outreach events at Westminster School, whose alumni include Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, even though pupils from the school made up 2 per cent of Oxford's entire undergraduate intake last year. Oxford's classics faculty organised 154 outreach activities with independent schools, but just 83 with those in the maintained sector.

Politicians have repeatedly called on the university to widen its admissions. Gordon Brown criticised Oxford in 2000 when state school pupil Laura Spence failed to get a place at Oxford, despite four top A-level grades.

Overall, 53 per cent of Oxford places were awarded to state school students last year. But while pupils from independent schools comprised 39 per cent of applicants, they made up 46 per cent of acceptances.

Simon Wood, who helps organise the student-run "Target Schools" access initiative, said: "With limited resources, it seems nonsensical to target schools like Eton, who already dominate Oxford applications."

A spokesman for Oxford University said: "The university works hard to ensure that all those with the potential to succeed at Oxford apply – regardless of background."

How oxford 'reaches out'

The top 10 private schools targeted by Oxford, and their fees

* Manchester Grammar School, 18 events (£9,000 per year)

* Headington School, 15 events (£24,945)

* University College School, London, 13 events (£15,465)

* King's High School, Warwick, 12 events (£9,159)

* Marlborough College, 12 events (£29,310)

* Oxford High School for Girls, 11 events (£9,720)

* St Paul's, 11 events (£25,773)

* Rugby, 10 events (£28,000)

* Eton, 9 events (£29,862)

* Cheltenham Ladies' College, 8 events (£27,735)

News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

SEN Teacher, Permanent Role in Ashford

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad urgently seeks a qualif...

Drama Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Liverpool: We are looking for someone who can t...

**Science Teacher Urgently Required for September**

£120 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: **Science Teacher Urgently ...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport