Ox­ford uni­ver­si­ties both strug­gling on state school re­cruit­ment

THE (Times Higher Education) - - NEWS - Si­mon Baker

The Univer­sity of Ox­ford has again topped a ta­ble of UK uni­ver­si­ties with the low­est share of stu­dents pur­su­ing a first de­gree who come from state schools.

But a data anal­y­sis by Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion can re­veal that its near neigh­bour Ox­ford Brookes Univer­sity ac­tu­ally per­forms worse for young state school en­trants once fac­tors such as sub­ject and school exam re­sults are ac­counted for.

The lat­est data, re­leased by the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Statis­tics Agency on 1 Fe­bru­ary, show that 57.7 per cent of young first-de­gree en­trants to Ox­ford Univer­sity in 2016-17 were from state schools, up slightly from the 55.7 per cent share in 2015-16.

Other uni­ver­si­ties with rel­a­tively low pro­por­tions of new en­trants from state schools were the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge (62.6 per cent), Durham Univer­sity (62.9 per cent) and Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don (63.5 per cent)

How­ever, once the data are an­a­lysed to see how far uni­ver­si­ties are from their bench­mark fig­ure – an ex­pected state school share that takes ac­count of stu­dents’ qual­i­fi­ca­tions and the sub­ject stud­ied – Ox­ford no longer tops the list.

In­stead, the THE anal­y­sis sug­gests, Ox­ford Brookes – where 73.7 per cent of new stu­dents came from state schools, against a bench­mark of 91.5 per cent – is the fur­thest be­hind where it should be.

The other UK uni­ver­si­ties that are sta­tis­ti­cally fur­ther be­low their bench­mark than Ox­ford are Bris­tol, Ed­in­burgh, New­cas­tle and Durham.

Re­spond­ing to the fig­ures, Alice Wilby, UK re­cruit­ment and part­ner­ships di­rec­tor at Ox­ford Brookes, said that state school re­cruit­ment was “a com­plex area with many vari­ables af­fect­ing in­sti­tu­tions dif­fer­ently”.

The univer­sity is, she said, “com­mit­ted to widening ac­cess and recog­nises the need to con­tinue iden­ti­fy­ing and im­ple­ment­ing new ap­proaches to help en­sure that we are at­tract­ing a di­verse stu­dent body from all back­grounds”.

Ms Wilby pointed to work that Ox­ford Brookes

--25 had done in spon­sor­ing a lo­cal state school, of­fer­ing de­grees through fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion col­leges and sup­port­ing ma­ture stu­dents, giv­ing it a higher pro­por­tion of older stu­dents than the sec­tor av­er­age.

The Hesa data can be fur­ther an­a­lysed to look at bench­marks ad­justed for the ar­eas from which stu­dents come. Al­low­ing for this does not rad­i­cally change the list for those per­form­ing worst on state school en­trants, but it does help to iden­tify which uni­ver­si­ties are do­ing well against bench­marks.

For in­stance, Queen Mary Univer­sity of Lon­don is the in­sti­tu­tion that has the high­est state school in­take com­pared with this lo­ca­tion-ad­justed bench­mark, fol­lowed by the uni­ver­si­ties of Portsmouth and Sur­rey.

Over­all across the UK, the pro­por­tion of young first-de­gree en­trants from state schools in­creased by 0.1 per­cent­age point in 2016-17 to 90 per cent.

There was also a very slight rise in the pro­por­tion of such stu­dents from the most dis­ad­van­taged ar­eas go­ing into higher ed­u­ca­tion, from 11.3 per cent in 2015-16 to 11.4 per cent in 2016-17.

Ten uni­ver­si­ties fur­thest be­low bench­mark for young state school en­trants

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