Private school pupils included in deprived pupils policy

  • 22nd April 2024

A University of Cambridge scheme designed to help applicants from underrepresented backgrounds such as those “from the lowest socioeconomic groups” may have included children attending feepaying schools, The Telegraph has reported.

The scheme identified schools that sent fewer than five pupils to Oxbridge in the past five years as part of Cambridge University’s ‘widening participation” system.

However, the university’s student newspaper Varsity revealed that Gordonstoun and an online school set up by Harrow School had been included under the scheme. In fact, Freedom of Information requests showed Cambridge highlighted at least 289 private schools for ‘low participation in Oxbridge’ when assessing applications.

Cambridge’s guidance states. “This isn’t a measure of the quality of the school/college or the relative performance of an applicant. Instead it makes our assessors aware that the applicant’s school/college may be less able to advise them on applying to Cambridge and to prepare them for the interview process.”

A spokesperson for the university said: “All applicants to the university are considered holistically and no one piece of data is considered in isolation, in line with the admissions policy.

“An applicant’s schooling is taken into account, particularly if they come from a school which has not seen many applications to Cambridge, alongside other socio-economic factors to indicate disadvantage of opportunity.

“[A] new APP [access and participation plan] is being drafted now in line with Office for Student guidelines and is subject to further discussion around the collegiate university. It will continue to reflect the university’s commitment to widening participation.”

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