Cambridge Admissions in Great State

Cambridge’s state school intake hits 30 year high.

access admissions mike sewell Oxbridge state schools

The number of state school students coming to Cambridge this year will be the highest the University has seen for 30 years, according to figures released yesterday.

63% of freshers will be from state-funded schools and colleges, up from 58% last year. Meanwhile, the proportion of those from private schools has fallen from 42% to 37%, which amounts to around 200 fewer students.

The increase has been attributed to the University’s keener focus on encouraging applicants from the state sector, along withadmissions tutors’ new state of mind regarding the selection procedure.

Candidates are increasingly judged on their “potential” to flourish, with their social background and school being deemed as immaterial.

Contrary to what many had feared, this year’s tripling of tuition fees saw the number of state school applicants to Cambridge rise from last year by 3%.

But Dr Mike Sewell, Cambridge’s new director of admissions, speaking to The Tab, said he wasn’t surprised: “There was a similar rise in the proportion of state sector applications a year ago, which helps explain the change we now see.”

This could be due, at least in part, to the generous bursaries and grants made available by the University to students from low-income families.

However, in a public statement Dr Sewell also said: “The long-term impact of higher fees remains unknown.”

He told The Tab that the increase in state school admissions is important: “Because it shows that we can meet the challenging OFFA (Office for Fair Access) Target that we negotiated, which was based on our careful consideration and research into what would be a fair aim in the light of attainment at state schools across the country.”

Cambridge’s target is to achieve a consistent state school admissions rate of 60-63% and yesterday’s figures show that it is well on its way to achieving this.

However, some students are unsympathetic towards the target. A third year Selwynite, who wanted to remain anonymous, voiced their concerns to The Tab: “As if the cultural standards at this University weren’t low enough already, without more uncivilised oiks!

These bloody plebs should learn their place because they don’t own this f***ing University, they’re just plebs!”

But such a fiery reaction was far from typical. Ben Kentish, a third year PPSer at Emmanuel and Union President for Lent 2013 said the figures were: “Clearly good news. It’s encouraging to see things are moving in the right direction, although there is still a lot more progress to be made in convincing students from all backgrounds that they can succeed at Cambridge.

“As encouraging as this, it shouldn’t be taken as a sign that there is no more work to be done.”