Students who shun Oxbridge

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The Independent Online
Cambridge University is still battling to attract state school applicants and shed its Brideshead image 10 years after abolishing its entrance exam, university officials said yesterday, writes Judith Judd.

Cambridge abolished its entrance exam in 1987 because it wanted to bring in more pupils from state schools who might not be equipped to prepare them for a special exam.

The number applying to Cambridge this year is up - the only university to show an increase - but the proportion of state and independent pupils admitted is the same. Yet 69 per cent of students with top A-level grades are from state schools.

Oxford University is to abolish its entrance exam from this autumn for similar reasons.

Entrance to Cambridge is highly competitive. More than 90 per cent of those accepted get at least two grade As and a B at A-level. About 3,000 with three As are turned down.

Susan Stobbs, chairwoman of the University Admissions Forum, said: "We are trying to dispel some of the myths about Cambridge, both the idea that we are 90 per cent public school and that we are biased against independent schools."