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Principal calls for top universities to “think differently” in light of Oxbridge admission stats

23rd October 2017

Karen Dobson, Principal & Chief Executive of Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group (NSCG) has called for prestigious universities to review their policies in light of new admissions data. 

The data, obtained by David Lammy MP, shows that around 81% of students accepted at Oxbridge between 2010 and 2015 had parents with top professional and managerial jobs.  Nationally, 31% of people fall into the top two social income groups, made up of people in professions such as law and medicine.  The data also shows a very strong regional bias, with more offers made to Home Counties pupils than the whole of northern England.  The Midlands received just 11% of Oxford offers and 12% of Cambridge offers.

News of the Oxbridge 2010-2015 admissions data broke nationally on the day that Newcastle-under-Lyme College (NULC) played host to a conference for schools and colleges across the region, facilitated by Advancing Access, a partnership between the 24 universities that that form the prestigious Russell Group, which includes Oxford and Cambridge.   

During her address to welcome delegates to the College, Karen Dobson, Principal and Chief Executive of NSCG reflected on the breaking news and called for more to be done to support students from under-represented groups wanting to access highly competitive university places.

Said Karen: “Despite the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge each spending £5m a year in their efforts to cast the net wider for students, data clearly shows there is work for them to do in order to attract students from a broader range of socio-economic groups.  As the region’s largest tertiary college, our over-arching ambition is to help students progress to their next step, whatever that may be.  In some cases, this means supporting students in their pursuit of a place on a highly competitive course at a prestigious university and we want to increase the success of students wishing to access such places.”

Continued Karen: “Last year we had no less than 14 gifted and talented students secure interviews for places at Oxford and Cambridge, however, despite the cohort achieving very high grades academically, none were successful in securing a place.  Whilst most of these students went on to study at other Russell Group establishments, we naturally shared their disappointment when they didn’t achieve their initial ambitions. As a result, we are very keen to work with Oxford and Cambridge in particular to find out what we could be doing differently in the future.  The Advancing Access conference at NULC provided a timely backdrop for further discussion and debate about this hugely important topic.”

For several consecutive years, NULC has been the leading provider of students to university in Staffordshire, with around 800 students accepting university places at a variety of destinations across the United Kingdom in 2017, including a number of Russell Group institutions.

In 2016, NULC re-launched its Honours Programme, an extra-curricular pathway for gifted and talented students who aspire to progress to a competitive programme of study such as Medicine, Veterinary Science or Law.  Students on the programme have the opportunity to visit leading universities and enjoy activities and experiences designed to build confidence, increase knowledge and skills and improve the chances of securing a place at a highly sought after university.

Prospective students wishing to find out more about the NULC Honours Programme should email:

The data on admissions by region provided by the universities showed:

  • More than a quarter of Cambridge offers went to eight local authority areas
  • Just under a quarter of Oxford offers went to eight local authority areas
  • London and south-east England received 48% of offers from both Oxford and Cambridge
  • The Midlands received 11% of Oxford offers and 12% of Cambridge offers
  •  The North West, the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber between them received 15% of Oxford offers and 17% of Cambridge offers
  • Oxford made about 100 offers to students in the whole of Wales last year

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