Oxford among worst universities for equal access

Cambridge bottom as the University of Hull was ranked the best performing institution for admitting a balanced intake of rich and poor students

Photo: Mansfield College

Oxford is the fourth most unequal university in Britain for admitting students from different socio-economic backgrounds, according to new rankings.

The results, published in a report by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), came from calculating the “Gini coefficient” for UK universities based on their share of student entrants that came from the five different Participation of Local Areas (POLAR) quintiles in 2016.

The measure is widely used to assess how advantaged an area is, based on levels of higher education participation.

Cambridge was ranked worst, while seven other Russell Group universities – including St Andrew’s, Bristol, Durham, and Aberdeen – helped make up the bottom ten.

The University of Hull was ranked first in the table, while Derby and Edge Hill were placed second and third respectively.

Nick Hillman, director of HEPI, said: “This analysis reveals which universities reflect wider society best, and those which have further to travel.

“The best way to deliver fairer access to selective institutions is the same as the best way to deliver widening participation overall, which is to provide more places,” he added.

Iain Martin, vice-chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University and author of the report, said: “It remains that we do not have an educational level playing field.”

The findings come just a week after a Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) report ranked Oxford bottom of the class for its acceptance of students from poor neighbourhoods.

According to the HESA report, just 2.8 per cent of the University’s intake in 2017-18 were from students who live in areas classified as the most difficult to engage in higher education.

The University has been contacted for comment.

Worst universities for equal access, according to the HEPI report
University of Cambridge
St Andrews University
Bristol University
Oxford University
University of Aberdeen
University of Edinburgh
University College London
University of Durham
Robert Gordon University
London School of Economics
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