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?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Executive / Marketing Assistant

£18 - 23k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Executive / Assistant is n...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider to the fa...

Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Analyst - Global ERP Implementation - London

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable global business is l...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy