Oxford’s Vice Chancellor suggests state schools are to blame for low admission stats

She said state schools don’t push their students enough


Oxford University's Vice Chancellor has suggested that the low percentage of state school admissions to Oxford is because the schools don't push their students enough.

Professor Louise Richardson, appointed as Oxford's first female Vice Chancellor three years ago and currently on a £410,000 annual salary, revealed to the Telegraph she "dislike[s] this crude public-private dichotomy". She goes further to say, “one way of looking at it is that 10 per cent of the kids we currently admit are eligible for free school meals, so deprived by any standards. Almost 30 per cent of those kids went to private schools.

"The reality is that independent schools are identifying these smart, poor kids. They are bringing them in, giving them scholarships and educating them, and then they apply to us, and we take them."This comment comes after a study by the Sutton Trust, a social mobility charity, found that students from independent schools were twice as likely to go to a Russell Group uni as their state school counterpart.

Professor Richardson argues that there is a constant focus on Oxbridge to reduce the disparity in admissions between state school and privately-educated students. To this, the Vice Chancellor had this to say: "so it is fine for us to take the children of two highly educated parents out of a state school, but not some kid from a deprived background from a private school?"

The Tab's 10x campaign, which pushes to change the reality that a privileged school leaver is 10x more likely to get into a top uni, reported that over the past three years Oxbridge has taken more students from eight private schools than 3,000 state schools combined. Of this, Professor Richardson asked, “but why is that an indictment of us and not an indictment of the state schools system?”

Through the UCAS application to Oxbridge, students' records are flagged if they attended a school with a poor academic record. This means it is strongly recommended they are interviewed. Despite this, a parental occupation of a higher managerial/professional level still results in a 14 per cent higher than average chance of acceptance.

2019 is the second year in a running that it has given offers to the lowest number of state-educated students, with an intake of 58.2 percent of the student population in 2018. While this seems fair, only 15 percent of students over 16 years old are privately educated.

This disproportion can be put down to the availability of resources to help with the application process, with private schools providing workshops on how to interview and write a personal statement.

The Sutton Trust report found that this could not be matched in the state sector.

Earlier this year, the headmaster of the £36,000-a-year Stowe School, Dr Anthony Wallerstein, claimed that access and participation plans had “successfully driven down the number of Oxbridge places awarded to privately educated pupils”. He faced criticism over his comparison of this to anti-semitism, which was branded "deeply inappropriate" by Anne-Marie Canning, the Director of Social Mobility & Student Success at King’s College London.

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