Report Overview

An influential study, which exposed the massive under-representation of state school and working class students at our leading universities. It was the first time the HEFCE tables allowed us to reveal the extend of the imbalance in admissions. The results demonstrate that the students from non-privileged backgrounds who are achieving high scores at GCSE and A-level are not gaining access to our top universities in sufficient numbers.

Key Findings

  • Children from independent schools account for 7% of the school population and for 39% of the entry to top universities, compared to a benchmark of 28%.
  • Children from less affluent social classes account for 50% of the school population and only 13% of entry to top universities and children who live in poor areas account for 33% of the population but only 6% of top university entry, both much lower than the benchmarks.
  • The chance of getting into a top 13 university is approximately 25 times greater if you come from an independent school than from a lower social class or live in a poor area and is about double what it should be.


  1. Making A-level grades available to students and universities before decisions are made about higher education
  2. Funding for recruitment officers to identify and encourage students from less affluent backgrounds and their parents and teachers
  3. Expansion of other access initiatives such as summer schools
  4. Each university creates an action plan to make measurable progress towards the benchmark in an agreed time-frame