David Lammy's figures show that there are real barriers to getting into Oxbridge for state school students – even those who do achieve highly at A-level
This week, during the full heat of the tuition fees debate, David Lammy released figures on Oxford and Cambridge admissions, painstakingly put together from Freedom of Information requests. It turns out successful Oxbridge applicants are predominantly “white, middle-class and southern.” This is not news.
What is news, is the light it throws on why that is. As Lammy said, his most important findings were on where the successful applicants came from. To take one (admittedly self-indulgent!) example, in 2008, when over a hundred Oxbridge offers were made to students from Richmond-upon-Thames, just one student from Salford was so lucky.
Oxford says that where the educational attainment is there, students will get in. But in reality it’s not so simple.
The most obvious problem is that Salford’s bright young things are not applying to Oxbridge. Richmond students averaged 260 applications to Oxbridge per year (over 13 applications per 100 students finishing A-levels or equivalent) – over ten times the rate of Salford students, who managed just 17 (or 1.2 per 100 finishing students).