An education expert has said reports that Oxford and Cambridge "over recruited" from eight top schools are “depressing but no surprise”.
Natalie Perera, the executive director of the Education Policy Institute, appeared on the Matthew Wright show to discuss the news that the two universities have been found to recruit more students from eight schools than from almost 3,000 other English state schools.
Ms Perera told talkRADIO’s Matthew Wright: “It is completely depressing but it is no surprise.”
“What we need to think about is the context that many young children are being educated.
“By looking at where they grow up in the country, family background and income – I think it is really important for Oxbridge and other universities to take all of those factors into account when they are doing their admissions.”
'Not for them'
Ms Perera added that Oxford and Cambridge need to do more to make sure “everybody feels included”.
“Oxford and Cambridge need to do more in terms of their outreach, how they work with local schools and making their universities a place where everybody feels included,” she said.
“I hear a lot from students who have gone to Oxford who have made that leap and they thought it was not for them.”
She added: “If you look at the response that Cambridge put out today that they resist any calls to lower the grades because it would increase pressure on students.
“I can’t for the life of me think why that would happen. Surely if you lower grades then you decrease the pressure on students.”
A spokesman for the University of Cambridge welcomed the idea that "more support should be made available to students before they choose their A-level subjects and agree there should be more provision of careers advice".
But Cambridge rejected "lowering grade requirements", saying this would "place unfair pressure on students and that is something the university cannot support".
'18 months behind'
The top schools include Eton College in Berkshire, Magdalen College School in Oxford and Westminster School in London.
Ms Perera said there should not be a need for a “mandated quota”, “universities just need to do better”.
“The wider education system has a role to play because by the time that they leave secondary schools, disadvantaged young people are already around 18 months behind their more affluent peers.
“They have already fallen a long way behind and that is even more in the north of the country.”
She added: “Universities just need to do better and crack on. They need to make sure that they are looking at the wider context of students and they are doing more outreach work.
“I would like to see them doing more of that voluntarily and working in partnerships with schools, rather than responding to a mandated quota.”