The proportion of state-educated students dropped at more than two in five UK universities in the academic year 2019/20

Written by Jennifer Prince
Last updated
Images by Korng Sok

Despite efforts to increase university admissions from state school students, the number of students going to university from state schools has been stagnant for the past 5 years, only rising by 0.1% between the academic years 2018/19 and 2019/20. However, the proportion of state-educated students differs greatly in different institutions. 

there is more to do

Whilst some higher education providers welcomed students who were all state educated, at some universities, less than one third of students came from state schools. The independent sector educates approximately 6.5% of the total number of school children in the UK.

Figures produced by the PA news agency show that of the 23 institutions that took on a cohort where less than 75% of students were from state schools, nine were Russell Group universities. Across the Russell Group as a whole, 10 of the 24 universities saw a fall in UK state-educated students in 2019/20 from the previous year. 

The lowest proportions came from Durham, Edinburgh and Exeter universities, who took on 63.5%, 63.2%, and 64.5% of students from state schools, respectively. 

It simply isn’t acceptable that the proportion of state school pupils at some universities is so low

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of the School and College Leaders (ASCL), remarked: ‘It simply isn’t acceptable that the proportion of state school pupils at some universities is so low. 

‘We are aware that the higher education sector has done a great deal of work in endeavouring to widen participation but there is clearly a long way to go in certain institutions.’

However, the number of young university students starting their first, full time undergraduate degree from ‘low participation neighbourhoods’ rose by 0.4% to 11.8% in the year 2019/20. 

Chris Millward, director for fair access and participation at the Office for Students (OfS) said that whilst ‘there is more to do,’ the figures ‘show a continued and steady increase in the representation of people from the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods among those in higher education.’


Like this article? Here are more from News: 

Guild Elections 2021: President

University Teaching in Wales to Remain Online Until After Easter

Guild of Students to Lobby University to Declare a Climate Emergency this ‘Go Green Week’