Pupils 'not encouraged' to apply to Oxbridge

Teachers' misconceptions may be holding bright students back, claims charity

Fewer than half of state secondary schoolteachers encourage even their brightest pupils to apply to Oxford or Cambridge, according to research published today.

A survey by the education charity the Sutton Trust suggests that teachers' own misconceptions could be preventing students from aiming for places at Britain's most highly regarded universities – and that the problem is getting worse.

With fees set to triple to £9,000 in September, elite universities are under pressure to show commitment to widening access. However, only 44 per cent of state secondary school teachers in England said they would encourage their best pupils to apply to Oxbridge, compared with 50 per cent five years ago.

The study suggests that many teachers assume the two institutions admit a greater proportion of private school alumni than is the case in reality, or have little clear idea about admission figures.

When asked what proportion of Oxbridge students were from state schools, 14 per cent said they did not know. Of the remainder only 7 per cent thought it was over 50 per cent and almost two-thirds thought it was less than 30 per cent. The actual figure is 57 per cent – although this does compare poorly with an average of 88 per cent across all universities.

"We need to do much more to dispel the myths in schools about Oxbridge and other leading universities," said Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the charity, who described the figures as "deeply concerning".

He added: "It is also worrying that almost all state school teachers even the most senior school leaders – think that Oxbridge is dominated by public schools. "The sad consequence of these findings is that Oxford and Cambridge are missing out on talented students in state schools who are already under-represented at these institutions based on their academic achievements."

Head teachers' leaders said last night that the universities must shoulder part of the blame for teachers' misconceptions. Brian Lightman, the general secretary of the association of School and College Leaders, said: "If teachers and for that matter the general public are not aware of admissions trends to Oxbridge, surely those universities should be addressing the misconception in their own communications?"

"We agree that young people should be made aware of the opportunities available to them, which is why we have been so concerned about the removal of national funding for face-to-face careers guidance by a qualified adviser. This should be an entitlement for all students.

"Applying to Oxbridge is only one of many appropriate routes for our brightest young people. There are many good universities in the UK and other excellent employment-based routes into top careers, all of which are available to high calibre applicants from all backgrounds.

"Social mobility is about far more than entry to Oxbridge."

The Russell Group, which represents 24 of the country's leading higher education research institutions – including Oxford and Cambridge – constantly argues that its universities plough millions of pounds every year into outreach work aiming to try and persuade disadvantaged youngsters to apply to their universities.

However, it argues that its work is often hampered by state schools not putting their students in for the right subjects at A-levels to obtain places.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
News
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Life and Style
tech

Apple agrees deal with Visa on contactless payments

Latest stories from i100
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

Humanities Teacher

£110 - £135 per day + Competitive Rates: Randstad Education Maidstone: Outstan...

Special Needs Teachers required - Derby

£110 - £145 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are rec...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 primary supply teacher ne...

General Cover Teacher - Grimsby

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Qualified Teachers needed for Supply in t...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor