State schools believe Oxbridge is too elitist to accept their pupils

Thousands of state school teachers are refusing to put their brightest pupils up for places at Oxford or Cambridge as they falsely believe that the universities are too elitist and would not accept them.

A MORI poll carried out for the Sutton Trust education charity reveals that one in three teachers thought that fewer than 20 per cent of Oxbridge students had attended state secondary schools or sixth-form colleges – whereas the actual figure is 54 per cent. In all, 91 per cent of all teachers underestimated the representation of state school pupils.

Sir Peter Lampl, who set up the Sutton Trust to campaign for top universities to take in more students from disadvantaged homes, said: "The misconceptions among secondary school teachers are alarming. They clearly have an impact on the number of bright state school students applying to these two great universities, despite the considerable efforts that both are making to reach out to them."

The research also revealed that most state school teachers think it is more expensive for students to study at Oxford or Cambridge than at any other UK university – whereas both charge the same annual top-up fee, £3,000, as most other universities and have generous bursary schemes.

The research follows an earlier study by the Sutton Trust which showed that just 200 schools – almost all of them private or selective – were responsible for half of the students at Oxbridge. The other 3,500 schools sent fewer than one pupil each per year to the two universities.

Sir Peter added: "There is this impression that Oxbridge is only for quite posh and important people. That has terrible implications for youngsters' futures and who gets to run the country. Thousands of schools only send one kid every three or four years to Oxbridge – yet they will all have academically gifted kids in them."

Visit www.independent.co.uk/openhouse to read Richard Garner on school exam targets

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