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Update - % to Oxbridge etc., ind. vs state

(26 Posts)
MN164 Wed 28-Jan-15 09:27:34

Spotted the DfE figures on destinations post A-level (KS5) for all students (2013).

" ... of those from independent schools ....Oxford and Cambridge together attracted 5% and the Russell Group of Universities 37%.

This compares to 1% and 11% for state funded mainstream providers. "

Happy to be accused of prejudices etc, but I was expecting private schools to have a higher hit rate at Oxbridge (c. 10%).

- Are other unis more attractive now?
- Are fees payers less interested in results?
- Is Oxbridge losing its "holy grail" status?
- Are fee payers being "ripped off"?
- Are the Russell Group stats the "real" indicator?
- Are private schools irrelevant anyway

Not sure why any of this matters, but it might to you.

Elsewhere in the data it shows that of Oxbridge's intake (c. 4,310) around 1,700 came from indies (39%) and the remaining 61% from state. I assume overseas are excluded from all figures. This is a well known situation. If the state system was performing as the private systems does there would be c. 13,000 going to Oxbridge (three times current capacity).

Also, the "top" schools, measured by this Oxbridge obsession, are dominated by single sex schools, a point not addressed in the report (that I found) .....

TheWordFactory Wed 28-Jan-15 09:45:34

My views for what they're worth as a fee paying parent and an academic at Oxbridge.

1. The widening access scheme at Oxbridge has been extremely successful. But obviously, the more state schooled students you attract, the fewer privately educated students can attend. Common sense innit?

2. Other universities are becoming more attractive for some subjects in the UK (or certainly not less attractive). And the lure of the Ivy is gaining traction.

3. Fee payers are not less interested in results, but they are becoming a wee bit less Oxbridge-centric. I suspect this is being led by families from overseas, or who have spent time overseas, and others are following their lead. The London universities are the hot destination for this group.

4. Is Oxbridge losing its Holy Grail status? Well, a bit, yes. Obviously, not many people turn their nose up at a place, but there's a growing sense now of it not mattering like it did. Plenty of clever rich kids going to other places , having a great time, and getting the jobs they want when they leave. Certain other universities have grasped this trend by the scruff of the neck and are positioning themselves.

TheWordFactory Wed 28-Jan-15 09:51:19

Sorry, pressed too soon.

5. Are fee payers being ripped off? If they think they're paying for a place at Oxbridge, then they're certainly stupid, but I'm not aware of any private school making such a promise.

6. Are the RG figures the real indicator? Dunno. As a very blunt measure of where recruiters may look for their employees, then I suppose it's as good as any. But it's very blunt, because there are some places that recruiters look that certainly are not on that list. And of course some places on that list that some recruiters wouldn't touch with your's.

7. Are private schools irrelevant? To what?

skylark2 Wed 28-Jan-15 10:27:03

"Private schools" covers such a wide range, though.

I imagine academically selective private schools probably do have a higher hit rate than 5% at Oxbridge. But it'll be diluted by, for instance, specialist ballet schools, specialist music performance schools, specialist sports schools - most of which probably have zero applications to Oxbridge because kids who go to those schools have other aspirations. And that's without considering schools which couldn't care less how bright their kids are as long as parents can pay the fees, or schools which specialise in helping kids with learning difficulties.

Not sure what the Oxbridge rate is at my kids' schools, but I know the Russell group stats are more like 90% than 37%. It's a big deal especially with parents (we got looked at very sideways when DD made her firm offer a non RG uni despite offers from 3 RG unis. By her friends and parents, not the school.)

I think what often gets missed is also the (in my experience, very large) set of people who'd send their kid to a private academic school to avoid them being one of very few extremely academic kids at a mixed ability state school, but who would send them to state school if they'd have a peer group of roughly equal ability there. For that group of families, just about all the potential Oxbridge students are at private schools but just about all the more average ability students are at state schools - without that saying anything at all about how good the schools are.

smokepole Wed 28-Jan-15 13:26:27

Cambridge must be much better at getting state school pupils in for the overall rate for the overall rate for Oxbridge being 61%. This is because I listened to a Podcast from Professor Danny Dorling at Oxford University and Oxford University were "jumping for joy" because state school enrolment had just passed 50% considering the fact 93% of all children are educated in the state "pretty poor going". However, that's not even the worst part because 75% of all state school educated Oxford students come from the top 100 state schools all "selective" schools either Grammar or pretend "Comprehensive" schools.

There are two things clear here, the obvious being bright state school from inner city areas are not applying. The second thing is very debatable (particular on here) "Normal" State Comprehensives are unable to help bright students get in to Oxbridge . I know we will get the usual "My Child went to a Comprehensive and got in to Oxford" . The reason is the parents probably went to Oxbridge themselves as well !

grovel Wed 28-Jan-15 14:06:01

smokepole, my guess is that many more than 7% of kids doing A levels are at independent schools. I may be wrong.

TheWordFactory Wed 28-Jan-15 14:08:29

It's about 15%.

KleineDracheKokosnuss Wed 28-Jan-15 14:28:16

- Are other unis more attractive now?

Depends on the subject, but yes. The London universities are good in many areas (UCL in particular) and different areas around the country are better for different subjects.

- Are fees payers less interested in results?

No. Results matter a lot, but I suspect that many of the fee paying students/parents are also aware of the options for studying in other countries.

- Is Oxbridge losing its "holy grail" status?

A little. But only by reference to Russell Group universities (or the Ivy League).

- Are fee payers being "ripped off"?

No, Oxbridge entrance is not the reason I will be paying for DD's schooling. There are lots of benefits offered by private schools (assuming you can find one that is right for your child and within your budget) and many of the parents I know who will be doing the same are not overly focused on the result (though I won't claim they don't care about them at all, because they do).

- Are the Russell Group stats the "real" indicator?

Couldn't say.

- Are private schools irrelevant anyway

Not sure I understand the question, sorry.

Caronaim Wed 28-Jan-15 14:33:06

But lots of state sixth formers do not want to go to Oxbridge. I turned down a place at Cambridge to go to London, because it was better for my subject. two of my friends got Oxford places and left after two weeks to go somewhere else, because they didn't like it. Places at Oxbridge is not a measure of success.

GooseyLoosey Wed 28-Jan-15 14:44:43

Having to pay fees makes a difference.

Ds is really into maths and physics. If he is good at it and wants to read it at uni, I would encourage him to look at MIT now as it won't cost a hell of a lot more than sending him to a UK university.

Dd is currently in to languages and again, she might want to look at a European university which could even be cheaper than staying at home.

Fees have widened the range of where it is sensible to look.

Jackieharris Wed 28-Jan-15 14:54:28

This reflects my experience of private and state schools.

My private school sent 5 to Oxbridge out of a year group of c.160. Lots (maybe 30) got the grades but didn't apply. Often they wanted to do medicine and other unis are better for that.

Almost everyone I know of went to a RG uni.

In other private schools we've visited those ratios are similar.

Not all private schools are the same. Some are Oxbridge factories some never send any pupils there.

Good state schools I know of send maybe 1 or 2 a year, out of bigger year groups but fewer pupils who get high enough grades.

Imo, if you've got a smart dc and they can go to a decent state school you're wasting your money if you pay for private if it's just to get into Oxbridge.

MN164 Wed 28-Jan-15 15:21:47

Some really interesting answers here. Thanks.

"- Are private schools irrelevant anyway"

Yeah. That was a rubbish question. It was sort of a "does it really matter where students are educated so long as everyone gets a decent education?"

We could equally look at the same stats for faith vs non-faith, grammar vs comp, single sex vs co-ed.

The populations that are "falling" short in RG uni admissions are highlighted in the same report. This is the area that needs to "close the gap" at the same time as closing the state vs indie "gap".

- Free school meals
- Ethnicity registered as "Black"

grovel Wed 28-Jan-15 15:28:16

There is much more recognition now that courses matter as much as overall university kudos.

I also think there is a perception among some young people that Oxford and Cambridge are for the serious-minded and that the student experience nowadays is frankly less fun than at some other highly-regarded universities. I'm not sure that this is a bad thing for Oxbridge (if it is true) but they will inevitably lose some exceptionally bright kids who want to study and party equally hard.

TheWordFactory Wed 28-Jan-15 15:53:56

What's interesting is that whilst numbers of independently educated DC fall in Oxbridge, it seems to be acting as no deterrent to parents seeking places in private schools.

It's still viewed as a good investment.

TheWordFactory Wed 28-Jan-15 15:56:56

What will be very telling is how the industries dominated by independently/Oxbridge educated people change. If they change.

Will the same independently educated group continue to dominate wherever they get their undergrad degree?

wandymum Wed 28-Jan-15 16:35:05


I went to a comp then on to Oxford. No-one in my family had been to university before and school discouraged it as they'd never had anyone apply succesfully. It was a bit of a punt in the dark but I was ambitious and wanted to do it. This was in the dark ages a while ago but here's my experience anyway.

All the applicants are bright and going to get good results so that's not the deciding factor for them. Oxford relies heavily on the tutorial system, especially for arts subjects so the tutors that interview you are looking at having to spend 2 hours a week in a room with just you for the next 3 years. This means fundamentally, they look for people who they are going to find interesting to teach. They want to see enthusiasm for your subject and a knowledge of it beyond the A level syllabus plus you need to come across as confident enough to hold your own in an argument with them - not necessarily easy when dealing with some of the biggest names in the field.

This is why I think private schools have traditionally done much better. From early on they focus on confidence, lots of public speaking right from reception (as I know see having sent my own DC to private schools), tons of drama, smaller classes and more teacher pupil interaction means that by 18 their pupils are (massive generalisation) more eloquent and confident than state school pupils.

Plus of course, they are more confident coming into the process because the state/private stats give them more confidence.

When I was there, it wasn't necessarily the state/private divide as a whole I noticed but how some schools seemed to have sent whole years there - Winchester, Eton, Westminster, Wycombe Abbey all had 5+ people in my college alone and I think that is probably still the case.

Bonsoir Wed 28-Jan-15 18:16:58

wandymum - I think your analysis of the private school advantage in public speaking and confidence is spot on.

Large classes are fine for teaching things that do not require a lot of conversation. But that is far from everything.

Jackieharris Wed 28-Jan-15 18:37:03

wandymum that isn't an accurate description of the PS I went to or the others I know of.
No drama department or teachers at all (they didn't see it as a proper subject)
8 pupils in whole school in debate club
No public speaking in other classes
Class sizes of 28 in popular subjects
Teachers refused to give up their lunch breaks to help a child who'd been off sick catch up

The ones you listed are Oxbridge factories but they were a far cry from my school

grovel Wed 28-Jan-15 18:47:51

My DS was at what some would call an Oxbridge factory but I don't particularly like the factory analogy which implies (to me) some kind of standard process. I remember an English teacher telling me at the beginning of his GCSE year:

"I'll get them to each each other through reading and debate for nine months. Then I'll spend three months teaching them how to be dull and formulaic enough to get an A*."

boys3 Wed 28-Jan-15 19:44:59

MN164 great link. The top level figures can't of course reveal the devil that's in the detail. Both Oxford and Cambridge publish entry stats at individual school level, for each of the last 3 and 5 completed cycle years respectively.

The "top" independents have a much higher level of Oxbridge success - Westminster something like 45% for example. Likewise many state schools, admittedly mainly but certainly not exclusively grammars, have success rates in the 10 to 20% range.

There are then some independents which appear less successful - picking one at random Concord College 68 Oxbridge applications and 12 acceptances as compared say with Latymer with 65 applications and 29 acceptances.

wandymum Wed 28-Jan-15 19:48:27

Jackieharris - every school is different and I'm just going by what I see with my DC's schools where there has been a huge focus on making them confident in expressing their opinions to anyone and everyone!

From reception age they had to learn and recite a poem to the whole school once a month. They are required to give regular presentations to their classes. Their are lots of plays and drama and lots of one on one discussion times with teachers which is possible as there are so few per class.

Plus as Grovel says they cover a much broader curriculum narrowing down only when needed to pass exams, whereas my own school stuck rigidly to national curriculum.

At my Oxford interview they weren't interested in discussing any of the books I'd covered for A levels - my subject was English. Instead we had a very ahem lively debate about what constituted great literature roaming across everything from Jilly Cooper to Shakespeare.

That's the type of debate applicants need to be ready to deal with and I still think private schools are better at preparing for that.

Caronaim Wed 28-Jan-15 19:54:08

I expect it is the applicant, rather than the school.

Caronaim Wed 28-Jan-15 19:57:11

Teachers refused to give up their lunch breaks to help a child who'd been off sick catch up

This comes with experience rather than having anything to do with the school. Idealistic new young teachers might make this mistake, but the few who survive the first five years of teaching ( a very small proportion) will only do so by learning to be more sensible and responsible.

boys3 Wed 28-Jan-15 20:31:18

Likewise many state schools, admittedly have success rates in the 10 to 20% range *Many" best replaced by some, apologies for the unintended exaggeration.

boys3 Wed 28-Jan-15 20:57:19

On some of the other points

- Are other unis more attractive now?

We are perhaps fortunate in having quite a number of excellent institutions. Imperial, LSE, UCL, Durham, Warwick, St, Andrews to name but half a dozen obvious ones. St Andrew's even has the temerity not to be an RG uni, as indeed does Bath smile The lure of the very top US uni's - Harvard, Stanford, Caltech, MIT cannot be understated, and only one of those four is Ivy League.

- Are fees payers less interested in results?

not in a position to comment

- Is Oxbridge losing its "holy grail" status?

Clearly demand for places are still there, but it depends what DCs are looking at. There are other appealing choices as that short list above shows. However was there not a recent survey showing that grad pay from Oxbridge still outstripped even the other top uni's ? whether that will continue as the economy strengthens (fingers crossed) remains to be seen

- Are fee payers being "ripped off"?

I'll second guess this - I would strongly imagine that those who choose to pay for the private route have a variety of very good reasons as to what they feel is best suited for their DC. I'd imagine they may well hope that their DC develops the potential to have a range of good options to select from at the end of the 6th form. My ill informed perception is therefore "no" as to whether they are being ripped off.

- Are the Russell Group stats the "real" indicator?

Only if one believes that the top universities must all be RG - which clearly is not the case - St. Andrews and Bath being obvious examples. It was not that long ago that Durham was not in RG either. Plus there is variance for particular subjects, some of the less well regarded or newer Unis may well have very highly regarded specific courses.

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