Pupils from private schools are five times as likely to get places at Oxbridge as their peers educated in the state system despite a high-profile drive to widen access to top universities.
Figures published for the first time by the Department for Education show that one-in-20 pupils from the fee-paying sector goes straight in to Oxford or Cambridge at the age of 18. This compares with just one-in-100 of those from state schools.
It also emerged that private school pupils were three times as likely to enter a leading Russell Group university.
Two top private schools – Magdalen College School and Oxford High – sent proportionally more pupils to top universities than any other school in England, figures show. In all, some 36 per cent of 18-year-olds got into Oxbridge and 82 per cent went on to one of 24 Russell Group universities from the two schools.
By comparison, five state schools failed to send a single pupil to university at all, while 287 were unable to ensure any students on to Russell Group institutions.
A total of 1,373 state school and colleges – about 63 per cent – sent no pupils to Oxford or Cambridge in 2011.The disclosure underlined the continuing gulf in access to top universities between state and independent schools.
It comes despite a £1 billion investment nationally on bursaries and outreach programmes designed to promote access to higher education and ensure universities create a better social mix on campuses.
David Laws, the Schools Minister, said all schools should have “high aspirations” for pupils, saying some were able to send many teenagers to leading universities despite being situated in deprived postcodes.
This includes Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney – the school formerly led by Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted – which sends seven per cent of its pupils to Oxbridge .
David Laws said “All schools and colleges should have high aspirations for their students so they can fulfil their potential – going to top universities, starting high-quality apprenticeships or getting good jobs in our growing economy. Our reforms to help ensure this happens at even more schools – including a rigorous new curriculum, world-class exams and qualifications, and the pupil premium – are working. More young people from disadvantaged areas in England are applying to university than ever before; more than 20 per cent in 2014, compared to less than 15 per cent in 2009.”
Today’s DfE figures cover the destinations of pupils leaving school and college at the age of 16 or 18 in 2011 – the latest available data. A total of 53 per cent of 18-year-olds from the state system went in to higher education, only slightly lower than the 64 per cent of pupils doing so from private schools. It is believed that many others take gap years before replying 12 months later, which is not shown in the figures.
But the data exposes large differences between the types of universities attended.
Some 38 per cent of privately-educated pupils went straight on to Russell Group universities, compared with just 11 per cent of those from the state system.In the case of Oxbridge, five per cent of private school pupils were admitted to Britain’s two top universities compared with only one per cent of state school students. A breakdown also shows differences in pupils’ chances of a top university place across the country. In Reading, 38 per cent of state school pupils went to a Russell Group university, along with 26 per cent in Sutton, south London, and 25 per cent in Buckinghamshire. At the other end of the scale, just one per cent of Portsmouth’s school and college leavers won a place at one of these top universities, along with two per cent in Knowsley, Merseyside. Reading saw seven per cent of its pupils win a place at either Oxford or Cambridge, while in Portsmouth, Knowsley, Rochdale, Halton and Rutland no-one went to these university