Oxbridge applications influenced by geography

The Telegraph is reporting new figures revealed by a freedom of information request which show admissions to Oxbridge are biased by where students live…

Disproportionate numbers of students living in Surrey and three London local authorities gained access to Oxford or Cambridge in 2012, while elsewhere across the country some areas were well below the national average.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed Richmond upon Thames, Kensington and Chelsea and the City of London sent more than 25 students to the two top Universities per 1,000 – compared to a national average of 2.5 per 1,000.

And in Surrey, almost as many students went to study at Oxbridge as those in Wales and the north east combined – despite the fact there were 868 applications from Surrey compared to more than double this number from Wales and the north east.

But in Angelsey, Flintshire and Middlesbrough less than one student per 1,000 went to Oxbridge.

Mike Nicholson, director of admissions and outreach at Oxford told The Guardian: “These geographical disparities by school attainment are of huge concern. There’s a whole range of socioeconomic factors in the mix, many of which stretch back to birth and beyond. This is something every part of society needs to work together to address, going right down to early years education. It is a national challenge. Universities can’t make a difference on their own.”

More at:  Oxbridge applications influenced by geography

So what is going on here? Why are some areas doing so much better with Oxbridge success than others? If, as Mike Nicholson suggests, it goes all the way down to early years education, then what should schools be doing differently? Please share your thoughts in the comments below, on Twitter or by using this form 

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  1. Chrysalis

    Speaking as someone who went to Cambridge (and thus not affected by sour grapes), I get totally fed up with the constant reference to Oxbridge as the destination that EVERY student should aim for.  There is no value in getting more students to apply – the universities have a finite number that they can accept!  Most other universities are just as good, and manage perfectly well despite not having the prestige of attract the ‘best’ candidates.

    • Chrysalis 
      You make a very fair point but isn’t it concerning that we have two universities rated amongst the very best in the world yet currently if you go to a certain school or (according to this research) live in a certain area then you chances of getting there are much lower? Isn’t this horribly unfair? Obviously all other things will never be exactly equal, but why should certain schools and areas get a disproportionate number of places for their pupils when an Oxbridge education is a significant asset?
      Also, the same is possibly just as true for other highly rated universities and courses.
      That doesn’t invalidate what you are saying but does perhaps explain why these figures might be important.

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