Top universities really are biased in favour of private school pupils

Survey reveals that state school students need higher A-level results to get accepted

Pupils from state schools and ethnic minority groups need higher A-level results than those from private schools to get into Britain's top universities, says a study out today.

Research by Durham University shows state school pupils face a "double whammy" of being less likely to apply to university in the first place, and then finding that those that do get in have achieved, on average, one exam grade higher than those accepted from private schools.

Applicants to the Russell Group of universities from Black Caribbean, African, Pakistani or Bangladeshi backgrounds also need higher qualifications to get in, the research found.

The findings are based on a survey of more than 49,000 candidates to the 20 leading universities between 1996 and 2006 and since updated.

Figures show that state school candidates who apply to Russell Group universities, on average, are likely to have two grades higher than private school applicants. Those who secure places have at least one grade higher than those from private schools.

The report concludes that many state school students might be put off applying for top universities because they fear they will not get high A-level grades. It bemoans the fact that plans to allow students to apply after results are received have been opposed by the Russell Group. "It is a shame that recent proposals for a post-qualification application system have been opposed by the Russell Group and have been abandoned for the time being," the report concludes. Such a system "would probably be a good deal fairer," it adds.

Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said: "Russell Group universities work hard to encourage students from a wide range of backgrounds to apply to them.

"But our universities face real difficulties as they work hard to attract students with the most talent, potential and ability from all backgrounds.

"Neither we nor the researchers can control for individual students making poor A-level choices...Many students haven't done the subjects needed for entry and universities need students not only to have good grades but grades in the right subjects."

An update shows that while the gap between white and ethnic minority students being accepted is falling, it is still substantial.

The findings come as Schools minister David Laws told a teachers' conference he wanted schools to make more efforts to cut the gap in performance between rich and poor students by using available Government funding to help them teach their most disadvantaged pupils.

Education standards watchdog Ofsted will be told they should look in particular at the performance of disadvantaged pupils in schools with apparently good results.

Mr Laws told the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference: "No school should be an outstanding school if it is not achieving excellence for its most disadvantaged students."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + + uncapped commission + benefits: SThree: Did you ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + benefits + uncapped commission: SThree: Did you kn...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

Escape from Everest base camp

Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

Gossip girl comes of age

Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

Goat cuisine

It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
14 best coat hooks

Hang on: 14 best coat hooks

Set the tone for the rest of your house with a stylish and functional coat rack in the hallway
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?