Students educated at state schools are increasingly being turned away from the UK’s elite universities, according to a new report from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. Published on July 17th, the report says there were 126 fewer students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds at Russell Group universities in 2011-2012 than there were in 2002-2003. Taking the exam grades of applicants into account, the report claims there were 3,700 “missing” state-educated students at the top 24 institutions.
The commission urged these universities to do more to reach out to state-educated students, saying they have become “more, not less, socially unrepresentative over time” – news which may encourage more school-leavers to consider completing their degrees through distance learning courses instead. The report’s recommendations included encouraging universities to develop concrete links with individual state schools, and for the sector as a whole to set out statistical targets for the next five years.
Speaking to the Independent, the government’s social mobility tsar Alan Milburn said: “The biggest factor is not tuition fees but more a feeling among low income kids that the leading universities are not for them. It is as much about what the universities do to dispel that notion as about the kids and their teachers aspiring to them.”