State schools pay up to help top pupils go to Oxbridge
A surprising number of state schools now pay for private tuition to help their best pupils get into Cambridge and Oxford, according to a report by the Sutton Trust.
Over 100 schools admitted they employ companies such as Oxbridge Applications, which offers coaching on interview techniques and test preparation at fees of up to £1500. The firm says the number of schools using its services has doubled in the past three years and they now work with about 5,000 candidates a year, two thirds of whom are from the state sector.
The Sutton Trust, an organisation which campaigns for fair access to the top universities for disadvantaged students, says that a breakdown of the quota of successful Oxbridge candidates still shows 'stark inequalities' - most places go to public schools or selective state grammar schools, and only a 'tiny proportion' of candidates from other state schools gain places.
Competition to get into Oxford and Cambridge has never been higher as more students obtain three A grade passes at A-level, and the two universities each turn away around 8,000 applicants a year.
The Sutton Trust is involved in talks with Oxford to set up 'prep days' - something similar to what Oxbridge Applications offer but aiming to ensure that help is made available to youngsters from the disadvantaged communities as well. The trust already operates summer schools at both Oxford and Cambridge to give state school pupils a taster of what it is like to study at the UK’s top universities.
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