Oxbridge Offers - Westminster School(21 Posts)
Anyone any info on Oxbridge offers for 2016? Word on street is that they've taken a walloping this year & website is very quiet on the subject. Indeed not much info on last year's numbers either. Interested as might be considering for DS and at those fees, want as many data points as poss!
How many secondary school sixth forms and sixth colleges are there in the country? I suspect Westminster school is still getting more Oxbridge offers than it would be entitled to if they were shared out equally
Quite - by 'walloping' the parent probably meant 'only 60+' were offered ! Just curious really and lack of transparency always irritating.
Interested as might be considering for DS and at those fees, want as many data points as poss!
Suppose Westminster had 50 pupils receiving offers from Oxbridge this year.
What would this tell you about the school? That (a) their intake consisted of a large number of pupils with the raw ability to get Oxbridge offers, or that (b) they helped pupils who wouldn't have gotten Oxbridge offers from other selective private schools to get offers? What would be your evidence for the answer being (b) rather than (a)?
I know Westminster get a shed load of kids into Oxbridge but I do wonder if an individual is towards the middle or bottom of their cohort the school name might go against the pupil. Presumably Oxford and Cambridge colleges can't give huge numbers of places to just one school.
DD tried for sixth form entry and didn't even get an interview at Westminster, so presumably would have been at the bottom end if she had squeaked in. She is now happy at Cambridge, I suppose this reflects how hugely selective they are. So it is not just good teaching that gets them results.
Actually it is probably harder to get into Westminster School than to Oxbridge. I agree with the previous post, being in the bottom half of the year at a school like Westminster means you are probably discriminated against and are less likely to get into Oxbridge.
I have heard similar, though again anecdotal.
Things to factor in, might be:
1. The school hit a very high watermark a couple of years ago. This probably was unsustainable.
2. They had very significant success with US applications this year. Including from British applicants who a few year back might have applied to stay in the UK.
3. Westminster does not seem to encourage "tactics" as much as other schools, and a majority of students seem to be aiming for subjects that, year on year, are becoming more competitive. I have heard of similar schools suggesting Oxford rather than Cambridge for STEM subjects, simply because the competition appears less fierce, and have I certainly come across parents with children elsewhere, who encourage their children to try subjects like Land Economy, Geography or MFL to increase the odds of an Oxbridge place. From observation Westminster pupils tend to choose their subject, whether it be law, medicine, engineering, economics or history of art, and take their chances. The school certainly tries to damp down the idea of Oxbridge being the be all and end all. Even in a good year only 50% gain places.
4. My understanding is that the picture is pretty mixed, so some subjects have had "bumper" years, others have not.
5. Oxbridge places is a measureable output so can be a proxy for judging a school's performance, so could presumably be a basis for an investment decision. However I would argue that for most students and parents individual outcomes are more important. DS was not offered a place at Cambridge and is at the LSE, where he is thriving. One really valuable aspect of his education was an expectation that he would engage and contribute, and in an institution where the ability to self-direct is critical, this is really paying off. In employment/postgraduate terms he can expect to do as well with a good LSE degree as he would have done with a similar Cambridge degree, and though he won't have seen many dreaming spires he will have had the benefit of an education in an invigorating international environment, and for him a better range of course options. My understanding is that at least some of the very able students who are happily accepting their places at Imperial feel the same.
Each year, and like with similar schools, there seem to be a few surprises both in terms of pupils who gain places and pupils who don't. This year there seem to be more of the latter. Who knows. With increasing EU and international competition, plus improved state school performance both in London and elsewhere, it is unlikely that schools like Westminster would be able to retain their near 50% Oxbridge acceptance rate. However I am not sure that a change between one year and the next tells you much about changes in the quality of education Westminster provides. And though Oxford and Cambridge will offer the fantastic educations they are not the only institutions, both in the UK and US, who do so.
I don't get this idea that Oxbridge has a quota for Westminster students and when they reach it, they'll turn down the one who'd tip it over into 51% or whatever. Every subject/college's application process is almost totally discrete. They won't go, oh this student is amazing, let me just check across all departments, all colleges and at the other university how many they're letting in, oh what a shame, the Westminster Oxbridge box is now full.
Or do they? Has the system changed so much since I applied (a looooong time ago).
I think you need to look at Oxbridge offers over a reasonably long period. The Sutton Trust in 2008 looked at the annual rate over a 5 year period (2002-6) when Westminster was around 50% which is similar to its last reported Oxbridge results.Even if the last year or so is down you would need to wait for a couple of years more to see if a pattern is emerging. IMO it is in fact surprising that W has managed to sustain the level of Oxbridge offers for so long and it would be no surprise if it started to decline since a) there is pressure on Oxford in particular (where the largest number of W pupils go) to take more state school pupils b) there are now more decent London schools which are co-ed in the sixth form and c) I know one or two v.bright boys who haven't applied to W because of Saturday morning school (which may be a bit anachronistic now boarders are very much in the minority) so this is something they may want to look at.
Coffee, I dont think there is any suggestion of a quota. OP seems worried that the school itself is rumoured to have achieved less than a 50% acceptance rate. The fact is that a lot will depend on external factors such as the strength of other candidates. And decisions are made by college and by subject so presumably are based on the selecting amongst the individuals in front of them.
Certainly a lot depends on subject. A good school can expect a much higher acceptance rate for classics or MFL candidates, than say law or E&M. Judging a school by "Oxbridge acceptances" and leaving out success at popular medical schools, top American Universities, Imperial engineering, Courtauld History of Art, Durham Law or English, Warwick economics etc is really only seeing half the picture.
The OP wasn't but PP were saying there was some sort of quota - like pity the poor person in the lower half of the year.
There is no quota as such but a school's Oxbridge places depend to a large extent on the actual subjects applied for.There is a huge range with probably ten applicants for each place for law, medicine and english but only 3 for classics or MFL etc . It is probably increasingly difficult for private school pupils to get places to study the more competitive subjects since a) there are so many applicants with the same or perfect grades (which may lead colleges to favour state school applicants) and b) a disproportionate number of state school pupils apply for the most competitive subjects. A large dip at W in any year could simply signify that fewer "easier" subjects were applied for that year; in the old days it wasn't unheard of eg for those doing Latin or MFL A levels but intending to be lawyers to apply for classics or MFL at Oxford but law at other unis although this may not be as common now.
Its not just competition from state schools. Some quasi-vocational degrees such as economics or engineering are attracting ever increasing numbers of applicants from elsewhere in the EU and overseas.
Its not just an English thing. The numbers applying to top American colleges are increasing even more rapidly. Its difficult. Parents who went to Yale or Harvard, or to Oxford or Cambridge want the same for their bright hard-working children, but it is a more competitive world now.
I wonder what proportion of Disquisiones' students are from the UK. The LSE is now down to 25%. It was 50% when I was there.
Some very interesting and useful comments. Many years ago, I remember that at our first meeting together our Oxbridge tutors took pleasure (too much really but then they were very smug with no empathy or social skills - no excuse for them as some others so lovely but it wasn't noticed as much back in those days) in telling us all that for most of us it could just as easily have been someone else they picked. Therefore, don't think we were anyone special just lucky ones. Whilst our tutors were smug b------ds with no idea that some people might not be equally smug and might even need some encouragement ( alien concept) it has remained in my mind. It was very competitive then and is now even more so. ALL elite universities now have even more competition. Fully accept that it may be 'harder' in some ways to get into Westminster for sixth form than to get into Oxbridge but even that plus presumably fantastic teaching isn't a magic card into Oxbridge and indeed how should it be. Still extraordinary high levels despite yearly variations and just accept that there will rarely be any disadvantage for admissions tutors to weigh in your favour. For almost all individuals the outcomes will be excellent so no cause for angst just because it's not Oxbridge or very first choice of other elite destinations.
IME (and I meet a lot of affluent and academic 15-18 year olds at different schools in Paris), quite a lot of change goes on in the relative position of pupils in the last three years of schooling. Performance relative to peers is not static: some DC who have always worked hard and come top, or near to top, have no margin for improvement whereas others suddenly start pulling out all the stops. So a filter that is applied to 15 year olds is not necessarily going to throw up the same results on the same cohort 2 years later.
Since big name public schools no longer have privileged relationships with Oxbridge colleges, and since there are more and more DC trying for places at well known educational institutions at every entry point, it is unlikely, long term, that a handful of schools will continue to dominate entrance to the best known universities. If they do, that suggests malpractice (still rife in France on entry to Prepa).
Cambridge has a little over 20% overseas students at undergraduate level.
London has significantly more overseas students, even in lower ranked institutions.
I'm not sure that it is actually that much harder to get into Oxbridge these days - there are a lot more applications but it's clear from the outset that a big fraction of these applicants are below the cut. The number of definite acceptances and borderline candidates isn't so very different from what it was ten or twenty years ago.
And while I agree with Bobo that there is a lot of change from 15/16 to 18 there are some pupils who are manifestly Oxbridge material from very early on and who carry on the same path. Schools such as Westminster (and indeed my own DC's school) are pretty good at recognising these. Westminster is a terrific school, but I do think most of their successful Oxbridge candidates would have been successful from other good schools.
"I do think most of their successful Oxbridge candidates would have been successful from other good schools."
Disquis I agree. I am not sure a school can turn a child into an Oxbridge candidate. However Westminster will give a talented child a terrific broader education, so help ensure they achieve their potential.
W will always get a good quota of DC to Oxbridge and all the other competitive universities because the pupils are clever ( the entrance process is stiff), the parental body will do what's necessary and the school offer a terrific education.
A triple threat as they say in acting circles.
However, there's bound to be a reduction in numbers, just as there is bound to be a reduction in numbers from all the usual suspects as participation widens in the state sector.
Also there's a definite change in the Oxbridge or bust mindset amongst the pupils.
They're seriously not prepared to study something they don't want to just to get in.
Other places are becoming fashionable ( especially when old boys and girls tell tales of groovy times ).
Plus of course the US is increasing in popularity.
I think the point that EricNorthmanSucks makes about a change in the mindset among pupils is a good one. In our day pupils at the leading private schools like W would study anything (theology, classics etc) to go to Oxbridge since it was where so many of their peers went and once there they would doss around for a few years at the taxpayer's expense.Indeed Oxford even had "undivided" seconds so there wasn't much incentive/need to work unless you were trying to get a first. And jobs were much easier to come by so even those with Oxbridge thirds could get decent City type jobs. Now that you have to a) pay and (more importantly) b) work at Uni there is more incentive to do a subject which is either vocational or which you actually want to study.I know a number of private school kids doing A levels which would enable them to apply for soft Oxbridge options who are instead applying for harder subjects and are happy to go to Imperial/UCL/the US etc if they don't get into Oxbridge.
neuroticnicky - the trend towards putting subject ahead of university when choosing what HE to pursue has been gathering momentum for quite a while. Certainly, many of the most sought after employers make applicants do quite rigorous qualifying tests to ascertain skills that lots of degrees won't have developed.
Ah, undivided seconds, those were the days! I was the last year of those - I can remember people who matriculated with me who were on 4 year courses being seriously affronted when it became clear they were going to get caught by the new fangled 2:1/2:2 split. I had the double whammy of undivided seconds and a 2E offer! (triple whammy if you include a grant!) Happy days!
Sorry, as you were!
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