Cambridge college cuts private school admissions

  • 21st February 2023

Image from Gonville & Caius’s website

Cambridge college Gonville & Caius has cut its private school pupil admissions from almost a half to a quarter after changing its admissions policy in 2020 to emphasise “academic potential” over “achievement”, The Telegraph has reported.

In 2019 and 2020, Gonville & Caius had the highest proportion of private sector entrants in the university, at 45% and 43% respectively. The proportion dropped to 25% in 2021 and the college said it has offered 28% of places to private school pupils this year.

In 2019 the college published a target of increasing state applicants to 75% by 2025.

The proportion of state school pupils winning places has since increased sharply, despite the proportion of state applicants remaining static at about 62%.

Dr Chris Scott, Caius’s tutor for admissions and outreach, said: “What we’re trying to do is make a critical judgement about which applicants have the greatest academic potential… and current academic abilities are a very big part of that.

“But it’s not the be all and end all. I read roughly 900 applications every year at Caius and I read them cover to cover, I read the personal statement, teacher’s reference, any submitted written work, admissions test results, the contextual data that we have. All of that we take into account on an individual basis. We’re really trying to do things individually.”

Professor David Abulafia, a fellow at Caius, last year complained that “positive discrimination at Oxbridge has been around for a while but it has greatly accelerated”, and that “far too often unjust decisions are made that exclude better-qualified candidates from independent schools.”

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