More students from state schools admitted to Cambridge(39 Posts)
Haven't seen anyone else posted on this yet. This seems like an incredibly leap forward to me - I'm seriously impressed. Shows the access agreement has had an impact IMO (I say this as a privately educated oxbridge-ite). Interested in others' views.
UptheChimney can I reassure you that some parents/ students/ teachers couldn't give two hoots about these wholly artificial league tables Absolutely didn't enter the equation with the four of my DC who have gone through the process - just not an issue at all.
What we in university at the coal face teaching Departments find very frustrating is the lack of discrimination by applicants (driven by parents & teachers) about which performance indicators are within the control of actual teaching staff, and which are university or HEFCE (funding body) determined.
And that the figures are at least a year behind.
So my former Department scored high but not top in student satisfaction with teaching, but came out top in one league table because the university had cut quota in that area, and so the SSR (staff-student ratio) look amazing.
My current department is top in student satisfaction, but because our SSR is one of the highest in our discipline (caused by our popularity!) we are at the bottom of the top ten in the discipline.
And so on -- there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.
Of course A Levels and intelligence are not the same thing, but there is a positive correlation between the two.
With regards to league tables, I'd also love to see them banned. However, that being unrealistic I'd settle for having all applicants understand what they do and do not measure, and their limitations. At the moment we're in a situation where they're stressing because Bristol is two places behind Durham, and they don't understand why the league tables say that, and why it doesn't matter.
Oh well, I can dream. And I say that as former HoD and current research professor in two Departments that regularly topped various league tables for their subjects.
It would be great wouldn't it upthechimney.... but it is not likely to happen
If league tables were banned we could actually admit people we wanted to teach and whom we thought would thrive in our specific courses, and we could teach them in the ways we -- as highly qualified, experienced professionals - think fit.
And pigs might fly.
Except of course intellectual capability and A level grades are not the same.
Actually as a university admissions tutor, I would say it is the fault of universities. In many universities there are quite strict rules about how much you can vary entry grades, not because they say much about the applicant but because entry grades are used in league tables.
If league tables stopped using entry grades, my university (and thus me) would be able to make much more use of contextual data than we do at the minute. Thus it is a decision taken by universities primarily for marketing reasons.....
It's unfortunate, but realistically the disproportionate numbers of private and state school pupils getting offers at the best universities is not the fault of the university admissions departments. Indeed, there is very little that they can do about it, because
a) Whilst only 7% of pupils are privately schooled at secondary stage, by sixth form it goes up to 18%. This is partly due to state school students being more likely to drop out of education, and partly because some will transfer to private schools for sixth form (source for stats: www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/philip-hensher/philip-hensher-rejecting-oxbridge-isnt-clever--its-a-mistake-6292041.html )
b) Private schools are invariably selective, and so a far higher proportion of their intake is intellectually capable of getting the grades to go to Oxbridge / RG unis.
Yes they have this information. They have had it, and been working on access for over 20 years but there hasn't been so much public/media discussion until more recently.
Good point Lilymaid. These are stats that access departments generally use in my experience so I imagine Cambridge have this information but not sure whether they publish it.
I'd be more interested to know if there is an increasing proportion of students coming from backgrounds where there is no previous family engagement in higher education or from state schools that have not previously sent pupils to Oxford/Cambridge.
I agree with UptheChimney. The problem isn't the proportion of pupils from private schools going to Oxbridge but the fact that there are private schools at all.
I think the difficulty with making all schools excellent is that there is no one definition.
What would make an excellent education for child A, would be a living death for child B.
Speaking to colleagues at university, what they would like to see happen in all schools would be highly beneficial for the few, buit not necessarily conducive to the many.
It would be much more interesting if universities published their state:independent admissions statistics expressed as a percentage of pupils who are predicted/achieved AAA or better at A level.
How do you make all schools excellent? How do you make anything all excellent?
Nevermind excellent for your child could be failing mine.
I am also all for choice, I don't want to be told which school I have to send my child to, or even that I have to send them to school.
Even if there were no fee paying schools in this country, I could still HE (using Tutors if I had enough money), or send my children overseas to school (if I could afford it).
Actually Oxford points out that quite a large percentage of its pupils from private schools have been there on bursaries (a lot from ex-free school meals families). Which kind of makes sense, if it only wants the brightest, and only the brightest get bursaries to fee-paying schools.
I am currently living in a country without private schools (the tiny few there are not considered desirable). It is a very different experience!
And then universities are judged on student satisfaction, achievement, retention, etc etc etc.
Best thing would be to get rid of fee-paying schools. Make schools local and all excellent.
[ retires behind riot shield ]
upthechimney I'm not convinced that the numbers at Oxbridge will ever completely reflect the national stats.
To be honest, many independent schools are highly selective, whereas many state schools are not. The percentage of students with the requisite ability for Oxbridge will be much greater in a highly selective school.
Also, many young people from lower socio economic backgrounds simply do not wish to study somehwere like Oxbridge. It just doesn't appeal.
That said, I completely agree with you that it is extremely annoying that the universities are being asked to somehow redress all this! It is particularly concerning that they are being put under pressure to accept students who are less likely to thrive, because they have not received an adequate education to date!
Yep hills road (which I loathed my time at btw, and my unhappiness caused me to seriously under perform at a level-I have all A/A* at GCSE, a first class degree, and a B and 3 Cs at a level! Pushy schools don't bring out the best in everyone)
Anyway, try ran extra classes for Oxbridge applicants, and automatically upped estimated grades for them so they'd get interviews.
A lot of energy went into getting people to Oxbridge, it was a bit mad.
Personally I think the time to celebrate will be when the % admitted from private schools drops is the same as the proportion at private schools
Exactly. It's the comparison of percentages, not the actual numbers that count.
But what really irritates me is that hard-pressed universities are expected to make up for the previous 18 years of socio-economic dis/advantage. Divisions in attainment between the advantaged and the not, start at about the age of 3, apparently.
My overlong posts were effectively based on DSs decision making process. His area of interest (social science, not social service..) is well served by Cambridge, but equally by London and another of the bigger name RG. All quite competitive. At the same time some of the newer Universities offer really interesting courses.
In his case Cambridge would suit best. It is out of London, a great course and, obviously, is well known by employers. Its up to them but he might suit Cambridge as he is ferociously interested in his subject and well read around it. However the grade requirements to get to interview are tough. (There ought not be a problem about achieving offer grades, its just the percentages within AS.)
It would be a pity if he does not get in, but one of the other two Universities should take him, and if not he can go to one of his fall-back options. Many of his friends will be in the same position. Other friends, particularly those in the sciences, will chose London over Oxbridge automatically. Others are applying to the States as well as Oxbridge/London. Other similar schools are pushing good students towards Europe. We know one bright girl this year who has decided on St Andrews, fearful that Oxford will simply be a continuation of her very academic day school. She wants a break and a chance to step away from the pressure.
In short its not Oxbridge or bust for a good student, even if MN discussions or newspaper headlines seem to think so. Particularly for the more affluent, or more international. Simplistic headline figures suggest a bias, and this in the longer term has the potential to be damaging both to the Universities and to British higher education as an important foreign revenue earning product.
I would add though that last year my son was aware of several very disappointed Cambridge applicants, whilst Oxford applications seem to have been more predictable. Enough for him to briefly ponder whether he should set his sights for Oxford instead, to then realise that his interest was to get into the best course he could, and that London would then be better.
silly when I first became involved in the widening access prog, a colleague made it clear that he would not consider it much progress if the university simply swapped students from St Pauls to students from Tiffins.
I have some sympathy with his view!
That said, a lot of work is being done to really widen access. To get out to those places where students don't even consider applying. But it's going to take time!
I find these articles impossible to take at face value. I went to a state sixth form college which easily outperformed the private sixth form departments in the area. Most of the students were privately educated from 7-16 then went to the (very selective) state sixth form for a levels. At the time around 10% of 'state' students at oxford and cambridge came from this one sixth form. So 10% of the 'state' students actually spent the majority of their education in the private sector.
I would be surprised if that sixth form were the only example of this.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.