Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Varsity Bias Claim

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Varsity Bias Claim

Article excerpt

Byline: By Graeme Whitfield

A university faces charges of elitism after researchers claimed it chose privately educated pupils over children from state schools who had better A-level results.

The study by education charity the Sutton Trust found state school students applying to Durham and 12 other top universities had to perform two grades better than those from independent schools to win a place.

Durham said last night its admissions showed there was no bias towards private school pupils.

But The Sutton Trust said that of 29,800 students admitted to 13 top universities - including Durham, Oxford and Cambridge - 10,400 came from private schools, although just 7,400 would have won places on exam results alone.

Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said: "There are 3,000 kids from state schools who ought to be in these universities whose places are being taken by kids from independent schools.

"Up to now the media have highlighted cases of bright students from independent schools who have failed to gain places at our top universities. In fact, the dice are loaded in favour of independent school candidates.

"The research shows that the real casualties are students from state schools with high grades at A-level who have a clear three to four-point handicap at top universities."

The Sutton Trust study found 10pc of private school pupils with 18 points under the old admissions system got into the top universities, twice that of children in the state sector.

Almost six out of 10 privately educated candidates with two As and a B (28 points) got places, compared with less than 40pc from state schools.

But a spokesman from Durham said: "The university is committed to attracting the most able applicants regardless of their background, including those who have traditionally not considered applying to Durham.

"The university is also actively engaged in raising the educational aspirations of schoolchildren through a very wide range of outreach initiatives - whether or not those children intend to apply to the University of Durham specifically. …

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