All major northern cities combined secured fewer places at Oxford and Cambridge than twelve southern private schools, new data has revealed.
483 places were offered to pupils from twelve southern schools, compared to 398 for all northern cities. Of the top six southern schools, which received 344 offers between them, five are based in London.
The twelve schools collectively received roughly one in 14 of all offers made to both universities.
In total, the two universities offer nearly 7000 undergraduate places each year.
The cities included in the regional data, gathered from an FOI request made by David Lammy MP, were Middlesbrough, Bradford, Liverpool, Bolton, Sheffield, York, Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Hull, and Birmingham.
Westminster School alone received 88 offers, equivalent to nearly a quarter of the offers made to all major northern cities. The other schools with the most offers were Eton College, with 68 offers, and St Paul’s School, with 53 offers.
Other schools named on the list include City of London Boys, Magdalen College School, Wycombe Abbey, and Charterhouse.
The most recent figures available were used for the twelve schools, though some of the latest data is from previous years.
In response to these findings, Lammy claimed the data provided “yet more evidence” that change was needed at Oxford. Lammy said: “It is simply not acceptable for these institutions to take £800 million in taxpayers’ money from people in every city, town, and village when they are not reflective of our nation outside the wealthiest areas of the southeast of England.”
Catherine Canning, Oxford SU VP for Access and Academic Affairs, told Cherwell: “We believe that the University should set and strive to meet stretching targets for widening access to Oxford.
“We believe access stems from long before application and does not stop at an offer letter. The University has an obligation to support students throughout this process.”
This comes after statistics earlier obtained by Lammy showed that four out of five students at Oxford and Cambridge are from the top two most privileged economic groups.
Speaking to Cherwell, Pembroke JCR Access rep, Graham Mogridge, said: “This statistic is frankly appalling. It illustrates that the need for access work, and government action, is as relevant as ever. “Work is needed at all levels, from University to student, in defeating Oxford stereotypes, and providing those that have the potential with support before, during, and after the applications process.”
A spokesman for the University said: “When students from the north of England apply to Oxford, they tend to be very successful. What we need are more applications.”
The data also revealed that Oxford made only 193 more offers to applicants from the whole of northern England than it did to applicants from the five home counties.
The University told Cherwell: “One of the most important things to look at in admissions is the fairness of success rates, not just the raw numbers.”
“In our case, figures for the latest admissions round show that students whom we flag in the admissions process as being particularly disadvantaged (because they attended an underperforming school or live in an area of high social deprivation) actually have better success rates when they apply than their more advantaged peer applicants.”