Enemy of the State Schools

The University has again failed to reach its state school admissions target, despite investing ‘significant time and resources in outreach activity.’

andy mcgowan CUSU james tiffin Nick Clegg russell group state school

The University has, once again, failed to meet its quota of state school students, according to data released this week.

Only 59.4% of British students in Cambridge’s 2009 intake attended state schools, compared with the target of 70.4%.

Andy McGowan, CUSU’s Access Officer, told The Tab: “The latest figures show that whilst Cambridge is constantly getting closer to the targets that have been set – which is a result of increasing widening participation efforts across the University – there is clearly a long way to go.

“However, Cambridge cannot deal with this issue on its own.

“The Government needs to sort out the mess that is information, advice and guidance to ensure that all students receive accurate, independent and impartial information, advice and guidance.”

But Universities and Science Minister David Willetts attacked privately educated students this week: “[They are] so well taught that their grades kind of flatter them rather than understating their underlying ability.”

Willetts: Private school students ‘flattered’

The Higher Education Statistics Agency also announced that Cambridge only admitted 10.4% of its students from the poorest backgrounds.

However, 30% of the total number of people in full-time higher education are in this bracket.

A University spokesman echoed McGowan, saying: “The University of Cambridge remains determined to ensure that it admits the best and brightest students regardless of their background, and invests significant time and resources in outreach activity with under-represented groups to make this a reality.”

Cambridge is one of 32 of the 37 Russell Group Universities not be meeting their own state school targets.

But, we are still beating The Other Place, who admitted only 54.3% of their students from a state school background.

This led Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to say that to charge £9,000 tuition fees, these institutions would have to “dramatically increase the number of people from poorer, disadvantaged backgrounds.”

But Wendy Piatt, director-general of the Russell Group, said that the blame didn’t lie with Universities: “The key reason why too few poorer students even apply to leading universities is that they are not achieving the right grades at school.”

Outgoing Clare JCR President James Tiffin agreed, telling The Tab: “The disproportionate number of state school pupils at Cambridge is widely known, but when only 60% of applicants are from state schools, it’s difficult for that to change.

“The University and most colleges do a lot of work, not only to encourage people to apply to Cambridge, but to raise their aspirations to University in general.

“A lot of good work is done to try to break down the stereotypes and encourage a more proportionate number of state school applicants.”