University Admissions by Individual Schools

Report Overview

This Sutton Trust study documents the extent to which a few highly socially and academically selective schools dominate admissions to the country’s leading research universities. It also suggests that the differences in the admissions rates cannot be attributed solely to the schools’ average A-level results and that other factors are at work.

Key Findings

Oxbridge admissions

  • 100 elite schools – making up under 3% of 3,700 schools with sixth forms and sixth form colleges in the UK – accounted for a third of admissions to Oxbridge during the last five years.
  • At the 30 schools with the highest admissions rates to Oxbridge, one quarter of university entrants from the schools went to Cambridge and Oxford universities during the five years.
  • The schools with the highest admissions rates are highly socially selective. The 30 schools are composed of 29 independent schools and one grammar. The 100 schools with the highest admission rates to Oxbridge are composed of 78 independent schools, 21 grammar schools, and one comprehensive.
  • Overall, the top 200 schools and colleges made up 48% of admissions to Oxbridge during the five years, with 10 per cent of their university entrants going to the two universities. The other 3,500 schools and colleges accounted for the remaining 52% of admissions, with one per cent of their university entrants going to Oxbridge during the period.

Admissions to the ‘Sutton Trust universities’

  • 100 elite schools – making up just under 3% of 3,700 schools with sixth forms and sixth form colleges and centres in the UK – accounted for a sixth of admissions to the 13 Sutton Trust universities during the last five years.
  • At the 30 schools with the highest admissions rates to the universities, seven in ten of university entrants from the schools went to this group of leading universities.
  • Again these schools with the highest admissions rates are highly socially selective. The 30 schools are composed of 28 independent schools, one grammar, and one comprehensive. The 100 schools with the highest admissions rates are composed of 83 independent schools, 16 grammar schools, and one comprehensive.
  • Overall, the top 200 schools and colleges made up 29% of admissions to the universities during the five years, with 49 per cent of their university entrants going to these universities. The other 3,500 schools and colleges accounted for the remaining 71% of admissions, with ten per cent of their university entrants going to one of these universities during the period.

Admissions and A-levels

  • The proportion of university entrants going to Oxbridge from the top performing 30 independent schools was nearly twice that of the top performing 30 grammar schools – despite having very similar average A-level scores.
  • At the 30 top performing comprehensive schools, only half the expected number of pupils are admitted to the 13 Sutton Trust universities, given the overall relationship between schools’ average A-level results and university admissions.
  • At the 30 top performing independent schools, a third more pupils are admitted to the 13 Sutton Trust universities than would be expected given the schools’ average A-level results.

February 1, 2008