Two Bristol Students are setting up a State School Society

UOB has the second lowest proportion of state school students in England and Wales.


Two 2nd Year English Students plan to start a UOB State School Society.

Named the 93%, (due to the fact that approximately 93% of UK students attend state funded schools), the society’s Facebook group already has 60 members and is growing rapidly.

This move has come at a time when the University of Bristol’s state/private school divide has been much discussed and debated. Only 60.1% of Bristol’s intake is from State Schools – the second lowest intake in England and Wales.

Sophie Pender and Georgia O’Brien, the creative force behind the society, were inspired by their involvement in a Social Mobility charity called ‘Access Aspiration’, a charity that helps students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds get a taste of what work can be like in top industries.

The pair strongly believe that one of the university’s main aims should be to improve access to education for students from state schools.

Sophie Pender

Sophie Pender

The state school society they seek to create aims to offer students from state school backgrounds a platform where they can share experiences and campaign on the issues they believe in.

The girls hope that a social community for students that have come to UOB from state schools will be created in the process.

Speaking to the Tab, Sophie spoke of the alienation that the pair had felt during their time at Bristol as well as the troubles faced by state school educated students:

“Both of us have best friends that went to private schools and we often exchange experiences that highlight how our journeys to university have been vastly different to that of our peers. Many of my friends that went to private school have said that university was always going to be a natural progression for them but this isn’t the case when you go to a low performing state school.”

Georgia O'Brien

Georgia O’Brien

“Our school only had around 30% of students achieving a C or above grade in Maths and English when we took our GCSEs and we often weren’t able to take A level classes because there wasn’t the resources to run them. If you take that into account it is much more difficult for students from state schools to get involved at university because they don’t always have the prior life experience which make the transition easy.”

“It’s more difficult to get involved in the more competitive sports societies because our school didn’t have the resources to fund extra-curricular activities – this extends to things like debating. Furthermore, if you’re from a state school you’re more likely to face financial difficulties which leads into being stretched for time – I know many of my friends have to hold down part time jobs (and I myself have two), just to keep up with all the activities that our peers are doing.“

The pair have accentuated the importance of the fact that the society is also open to students from private schools who wish to help the cause.