Cambridge University: Number Of Private School Students Drop To 30-Year Low

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The number of privately-schooled students at Cambridge University is the lowest figure for 30 years, the prestigious institution revealed on Thursday.

Students from state schools increased in number - as did applicants from black and ethnic minority backgrounds. The news signals a success of Cambridge's drive to have a more representative undergraduate body, without lowering its entry requirements. Just over 90% of applicants achieved at least A*AA or equivalent.

Around a third of students (36.7%) accepted in 2012 were independently-educated, compared to more than 401% in 2011.

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Cambridge has boosted the number of state school students

Dr Mike Sewell, admissions director for the university, said "The collegiate University works hard to reach talented and ambitious students throughout the UK, talk with them about why they should consider Cambridge, and tackle the barriers that might put them off applying.

"Our undergraduates enjoy teaching focused on the individual student, outstanding facilities, a relatively low cost of living, and a generous bursary scheme available to all who need it."

Each year, Cambridge spends around £2.7m in efforts to recruit students from under-represented groups.

"Our commitment to fair admissions makes this available to students from all backgrounds, who succeed in their application because they have demonstrated academic excellence.

"AS results enable fair and transparent admissions by allowing universities such as Cambridge to make assessments based on a student’s most recent academic attainment."

Sewell's predecessor Geoff Parks has previously voiced his concerns about the dangers of social engineering. Last year, he said allowing poorer students with lower grades into the university would be a "cruel experiment" with the potential to "ruin lives."

Statistics released in March 2012 showed universities still favoured private school pupils, despite a government drive to improve social mobility.

The statistics, released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), named and shamed Exeter, Birmingham and Cambridge among those who saw a drop in state school students.

Out of university entrants last year, 88.7% were from state schools, a decline of 0.1% from the previous year. Around 10% were from low participation neighbourhoods. The statistics show 16 out of the 24 Russell Group universities admitted fewer state school students.

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Cambridge admits fewer students from private schools