Data uncovered by MP David Lammy has found that inequality in Oxbridge offers is on the rise
81 percent of offers in 2015 were made to members of the top two social classes, which constitute 31 percent of the national population. This had risen from 79 percent in 2010.
Geographical divisions were also stark; last year, Oxford made 2,812 offers to applicants in five home counties, and 2,619 to applicants across the whole of northern England.
Wales was also seriously underrepresented, with approximately 100 offers made to applicants across the entire country.
Wales was also seriously underrepresented
Both Oxford and Cambridge favoured local authorities, with Oxford awarding just under a quarter of offers to eight local authorities and Cambridge just over a quarter.
Areas with the highest proportion of successful applicants were City of London, which had an overall success rate of over 40 percent, Richmond and Cambridgeshire.
Overall, London and south-east England received 48 percent of Oxford offers, the Midlands received 11 percent, and the North West, North East, Yorkshire and the Humber collectively received 15 percent.
Despite these statistics, both Oxford and Cambridge Universities spend £5mil annually on outreach and access.
A spokesperson for Oxford University said: “We absolutely take on board Mr Lammy’s comments, and we realise there are big geographical disparities in the numbers and proportions of students coming to Oxford.
“On the whole, the areas sending few students to Oxford tend also to be the areas with high levels of disadvantage and low levels of attainment in schools.
“Rectifying this is going to be a long journey that requires huge, joined-up effort across society – including from leading universities like Oxford – to address serious inequalities.”
“Rectifying this is going to be a long journey”
Lammy said: “Oxbridge take over £800m a year from the taxpayer – paid for by people in every city, town and village.
“Whole swathes of the country – especially our seaside towns and the ‘left behind’ former industrial heartlands across the North and the Midlands are basically invisible. If Oxbridge can’t improve, then there is no reason why the taxpayer should continue to give them so much money.”
Lammy also said: “Whilst some individual colleges and tutors are taking steps to improve access, in reality many Oxbridge colleges are still fiefdoms of entrenched privilege, the last bastions of the old school tie.”
Lammy also suggested that Oxford and Cambridge centralise their admissions systems, and contact highly achieving students directly to invite them to apply.