Which Universities Have the Lowest Intake of State School Students?

2012-01-03 10:38 AMStatistics

Some universities have a significantly lower number of state school students than the national average. So who are the worst culprits? Place your bets now, as we reveal who had the lowest intake of state school students in 2010. We’ll give you a clue: it’s not Oxford… 

Any commoners in here?


Just over 7% of children in the UK attend private schools, but students from independent schools make up a significant proportion of the student population. Whilst the national average of state school students studying at higher education institutions was 88.8% in 2010, some universities took in more private school students than state school students. So who was the worst offender? 


School Intake



In 2010, the Courtauld Institute of Art had the lowest intake of state school students at a meagre 45.9%. Considering the Courtauld Institute of Art specialises in history of art courses, this comes as little surprise. History of art is traditionally a ‘private school-heavy’ subject.


Set in leafy Cirencester, home to the Cirencester Polo Club, frequented by Prince Charles, Harry and William, the Royal Agricultural College comes in a close second, with only 46.3% of the students in its 2010 intake coming from state schools. Taking into account the fact that the college has a ‘beagle fee’ and extra charges for ‘gun storage’, you can guess why it might have a larger than average percentage of private school students.


‘Royal’ is the theme with the worst offenders: both the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music are in the top five for poor state school to private school student ratios. Oxford loses out to Cambridge with a higher percentage of their 2010 intake coming from private schools.


Otherwise, there seems to be relatively few surprises in the top ten. Durham University and St Andrews do have a private school stereotype, which is now somewhat justified by these statistics. An eyebrow might be raised at Imperial College London being in the top ten. With 63.1% of its 2010 intake coming from state schools, it’s around 15% below the national average. A combination of London being the most expensive place for students and fewer state school students taking science-related subjects at A-level perhaps?


What is worrying is that 13 out of the 16 Russell Group universities have state school intakes which fall below the national benchmark. All the Russell Group universities offer extensive bursaries and scholarship schemes and claim to have fair and transparent admission policies. Indeed, they might argue that the problem lies in the fact that students from independent schools are far more likely to take key subjects, like maths, sciences and modern languages. Can Russell Group universities really be blamed, especially considering that over 50% of students from private schools apply to Russell Group universities, compared to 29.7% from state schools?

Image courtesy of Leek, ‘Somerset House’


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