England’s premier universities, Oxford and Cambridge, draw most of their students from the south east part of England, a new study has confirmed. London, and other boroughs in the south east, are where most of the students originate. To highlight the differences between areas; Surrey sent as many students to Cambridge and Oxford in 2012 as the entire area of Wales and north-east England. However, only 868 applications were sent from Surrey, while 1,187 were sent from Wales and England’s north east. These statistics highlight the bias shown by universities towards the south-east of England.
Barnet, a borough in London, sent 130 students to Oxford. Yet there were only 408 applications to the university from Barnet, highlighting the large portion of students that were accepted. On the flip side, the West Midland’s Dudley only had 13 offers from 61 applicants. The 10 wealthiest boroughs in England’s south-east region counted for 30% of the applicants accepted to Oxford and Cambridge.
Despite these statistics, universities claim that they are doing their best to accept a wider range of the population. They lay the finger of blame at the differing standards of education between England’s north and south. Schools are better, teachers are better, and students are more qualified in the south, according to Oxford and Cambridge. A spokesman for Cambridge responded to the article by stating that a university can only accept the most qualified applicants. If a college is sent 5,000 applications they will choose the 500 or so that measure up in the best fashion.
The application procedure for Cambridge for example consists of writing an essay, a thinking skills assessment and either a biomedical admissions test or a Cambridge law test depending on what study you want to follow. Maybe the difference in accepted applicants can be explained by the higher internet usage in this area. When people use the internet more, they are more likely to use the internet to their advantage. On the internet for example a wide variety of tests (like psychometric tests, abstract reasoning, spatial reasoning etc.) can be practiced online and information about older test can be found, which enhances the chances of succeeding.
But the onus should be on the government, and the country’s school system, to ensure that students all over England get a great education. At the moment, it appears as though those students who live in London and its surrounding areas are better prepared to go to university than their northern counterparts. It may take decades before this imbalance is corrected, but it is something that schools have to strive towards. Only when an equal portion of students are accepted from the north and south of England to Oxford and Cambridge can the schools say they have made progress.