More poor students going to top universities

The number of students from poorer backgrounds admitted to the UK’s leading universities has increased significantly over the last five years, according to the Sutton Trust’s further analysis of university admissions statistics. The growth in entrants from areas where very few students progress to university – low participation neighbourhoods – was found to be significantly higher than those from more affluent areas, and this has been accomplished over a period which has seen an improvement in the average A-level attainment of entrants to leading universities.

Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: “Last week we showed that state school admissions to our leading universities had grown by 35% between Autumn 1997 and 2002, compared with a 22% overall increase in numbers. Some commentators argued that this did not necessarily represent a major step towards widening access but our latest analysis shows that a number of these entrants are from poorer backgrounds. Since 1997, there has been a 49% growth in the admission of students from low participation neighbourhoods, well over the 20% increase experienced by more affluent areas.”

The Trust’s work also shows that since 1997 the average A level attainment of entrants to leading universities had increased from 26.4 in 1997/98 to 26.8 in 2002/03, a clear indication that these universities are not dumbing down to admit extra students.
“This is a most welcome turn-around in life chances and suggests the beginning of a much needed levelling of the playing field as far as university admissions are concerned. Furthermore it is being achieved without any dumbing down. But the numbers are still small. Despite accounting for 30% of young people nationally, students from low participation areas make up only 8% of entrants to the top universities and based on their A-level performance there should be more of them.” added Sir Peter.

The Trust’s analysis is based on statistics for the academic years 1997/98 to 2002/03 provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) for admissions to 13 top universities. These are the universities of Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Imperial, LSE, Nottingham, Oxford, St Andrews, UCL, Warwick and York.

The greatest increases in admissions from low participation areas were at Birmingham, which increased its annual intake by 87%, or 230 students. Bristol and Durham increased their intakes by 68 and 67% respectively, while 5 of the others had increases over 40%. 
The Sutton Trust was set up by Sir Peter Lampl in 1997 to help children from non-privileged backgrounds. Sir Peter has so far donated £14m to this cause.

Table 1: Entrants to the Leading 13 from Low Participation Post Codes

. 1997/8 2002/3 Change Change %
Birmingham 265 495 203 87
Bristol 92 155 63 68
Cambridge 108 161 52 48
Durham 193 322 129 67
Edinburgh 209 297 89 43
Imperial 64 93 29 45
LSE 35 43 9 25
Nottingham 194 287 94 48
Oxford 118 173 55 46
St Andrews 67 73 5 8
UCL 128 156 28 22
Warwick 141 185 45 32
York 126 146 19 15
Totals 1741 2587 846 49%

 Source: HESA/HEFCE

Table 2: Summary of Admissions to Leading 13, 1997/98 – 2002/03

. 1997/8 2002/3 Change % Increase in entrants
Total entrants to the leading 13 27600 33575 5975 22%
State school entrants 16909 (61%) 22797 (68%) 5888 35%
Independent school entrants 10691 (39%) 10778 (32%) 87 1%
Entrants from low participation neighbourhoods 1741 (6%) 2587 (8%) 846 49%
Entrants from other areas 25859 (94%) 30988 (92%) 5129 20%

 Source: HESA/HEFCE

Table 1: Entrants to the Leading 13 from Low Participation Post Codes

. 1997/8 1998/99 1999/00 2000/01 2001/02 2002/3
Cambridge 29.7 29.7 29.7 29.8 29.3 29.5
Oxford 29.2 29.3 29.5 29.5 29.5 29.3
LSE 27.7 27.9 28.2 28.3 28.3 28.3
Imperial 27.5 27.8 27.9 28 28.1 28.1
Bristol 26.4 26.7 26.5 27 27.2 27.2
Edinburgh 26.4 26.2 26.5 26.6 26.6 26.6
Nottingham 29.5 26.2 26.2 26 26.3 26.3
Warwick 25.9 25.9 26.3 26.6 26.7 26.7
Durham 25.2 25.1 25.4 25.7 25.3 25.3
UCL 25.1 25.3 25.8 25.7 25.7 25.7
St Andrews 25 23.3 24.7 26.3 26.4 26.4
York 24.5 25.4 25.5 25.7 25.3 25.3
Birmingham 24.3 24.6 23.7 23.8 24.2 24.2
Averages 26.4 26.4 26.6 26.8 26.8 26.8

Source: The Times League Tables, based on HESA data.

2017-06-07T15:19:02+00:00December 30th, 2004|Categories: Press releases|