How leading universities ‘favour’ state school pupils

The Mail is reporting what it calls ‘social engineering’ that means teenagers from state schools are winning places at elite universities with lower A-level grades than those from independent schools.

The latest official figures show pupils from the state sector are much more likely to be admitted to a Russell Group university with B and C grades than their privately educated peers.

These entrants are also less likely to have obtained A or A* grades.

An audit by the Daily Mail also found many top institutions are giving state school pupils offers which are up to two grades lower than course entry requirements. 

Generous offers are given if pupils come from poorly performing schools, low income families or live in ‘low participation neighbourhoods’.

The figures emerged as universities strive to fulfil ever more ambitious government targets on social mobility, which are aimed at helping bright but disadvantaged pupils reach their potential…

Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘Lowering the bar is unfair on students who got the top grades and it also means people may be entering universities for which they are ill-equipped. It could have a dumbing down effect…”

Entry rates to higher education for 18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods of England have increased by over 60 per cent since 2006. 

But those from the most advantaged areas are still seven times more likely to enter a university with the highest entry requirements than those from disadvantaged areas…

More at: How leading universities favour state school pupils: ‘Social engineering’ means they can get on to A* courses with B grades


I don’t think there is anything new in these figures from the Mail but it does focus attention on the idea of the use of contextual data when offering places.

Do you support the principle of changing offers depending on the applicant’s circumstances?

For example, should a child from a disadvantaged background where no one from his/her family has been to university and who has got ABB at a school that requires improvement be offered a place ahead of someone from a leading private school who has managed AAA? 

Would that be fair or unfair?


Is it fair or unfair to offer uni places for applicants with lower grades who come from challenging situations?


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  1. birch_david

    SchoolsImprove Very reasonable since they are likely to outperform highly coached independent school students at degree level

  2. BehaviourA

    You cannot under estimate the disadvantage students from poorer families have. No regular access to internet, no printer, stationery……..More things to worry about, more likely to need to work part time/ have caring responsibilities or at least look after siblings…………….. Intelligence/ potential not measured by exam grades.

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