State school pupils ‘failing to take the toughest A-levels’

Students from state schools are being put at a disadvantage in the race for places at top universities after failing to take the correct A-levels, the Russell Group warned today.

Many bright teenagers are being turned away from the most sought-after degree courses following a decision to shun traditional subjects in the sixth-form, it was claimed.

The Russell Group, which represents 24 of Britain’s top universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London, warned that large numbers of pupils were missing out on the “right advice and guidance” at a young age.

Some teenagers applied for medicine without taking science qualifications, while others attempted to win places on economics degrees without maths, the group said

The comments were made after research found that students from state schools were significantly less likely to be admitted to leading institutions amid fears the admissions process is “skewed” towards their privately-educated peers.

Pupils need to score the equivalent of one A-level grade higher than children in the independent sector to compensate for “unfair” entry policies at elite Russell Group institutions, researchers warned.

The study suggested that state-educated sixth-formers were around 20 per cent less likely to be admitted than similarly-qualified peers from fee-paying schools.

It was claimed that the admissions system also worked against pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds, with Black and Asian students around two-thirds as likely to win places as white classmates.

The study – based on an analysis of 49,000 university applications – found the problem was partly down to a failure to apply to Russell Group institutions.

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About dbda
dbda is a corporate social responsibility consultancy embracing education and safety in the community. We are privileged to work with a large number of blue chip corporate clients, Government organisations, charitable bodies, Institutes and local authorities. We also have a network of schools, professional bodies, associations, universities and partners, with whom we regularly work in collaboration.

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