Uni Places For Sale?

A company that helps students with their Oxbridge applications has come under fire after it was revealed that around 1 in 6 applicants pay for help getting in.

admissions andy mcgowan Cambridge University disadvantaged students oxbridge admissions Oxford

New stats reveal that 1 in 6 Oxbridge applicants pay for help when applying.

Oxford paper The Cherwell reported that on average 5,000 people a year turn to company ‘Oxbridge Applications’ for help with the application process. With around 34,000 students applying to either Oxford or Cambridge each year, that means around 1 in 6 will turn to the company for help.

Founded in 1999, Oxbridge Applications provides admissions advice for applicants to Cambridge and The Other Place, and claims that 53% of its customers secure a place compared to the average of 21% for normal applicants.

But the advice is not cheap, and the company charges up to £1,500 for its interview and admissions test preparation weekend, leading to accusations that it is undercutting efforts by Oxbridge to widen their access schemes.

Elitist? Moi?

CUSU Access Officer Andy McGowan attacked the company, telling The Tab: “By charging for information that both universities readily provide for free, profit-making companies such as Oxbridge Applications are preying on the hopes and fears of thousands of students keen to study at two of the world’s leading universities.”

“By running ‘interview preparation’ days (and now weekends) and services which edit substantive parts of people’s personal statements, they are implying that there are secret things you need to know in order to get admitted to Cambridge or Oxford, something which is hugely damaging to access because it is just fundamentally untrue. It is not just about the cost, it is about the principle.”

Current students are equally alarmed by the findings. Siobhán Coskeran, a second year historian, said: “This is an outrage! It’s simply wrong that some people are basically buying their way into Cambridge.”

But Rachel Spedding, the Executive Director of Oxbridge Applications, defended her company by saying: “We are not helping people get in ‘through the back door’. It’s people’s choice if they want to use our services.”

She also pointed out that the company does have its own access scheme. However, a look at numbers on the company website reveals that students from disadvantaged backgrounds make up only 2% of its total users each year.

Uni admissions and paying for places has become a touchy issue of late, with recent public outcry at AC Grayling’s plans to charge £18,000 for his private University higher education.