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

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant - IT Channel - Graduate

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a Value-Added I...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Guru Careers: Junior Web Developer

£18 - 22k (DOE) + Benefits & Stock Options: Guru Careers: A Junior Developer /...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss