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University of Cambridge to welcome record proportion of state school students in October 2021

The proportion of state schools who will start at the University of Cambridge in the autumn will be a record high.

The university confirmed between 71 and 72 per cent of its new UK undergraduates will have been educated in the state sector, up from 70.6 per cent in 2020.

Senate House
Senate House

Cambridge will welcome just over 3,600 freshers in October, which is down on the 3,900 of last year, but up on the 3,528 admitted in 2019.

Among the new intake will be 49 students offered places through adjustment – a scheme that offers a place to bright students from disadvantaged backgrounds who apply and miss out on an offer, but then go on to achieve high grades.

Professor Graham Virgo, senior pro-vice-chancellor at the University of Cambridge, said: “After another challenging year for students and teachers, we are pleased that Cambridge has been able to accept all offer holders who met the terms of their offers, without having to ask anyone to defer or move college, as well as another 49 who were made offers through adjustment.

“At least 71 per cent of our new students will have attended state schools, another increase on last year’s record, while more than a quarter are from the least advantaged backgrounds, including more than 230 who have declared themselves eligible for free school meals.

“We applaud the achievements of all our new students and look forward to welcoming them in Cambridge in October.”

Cambridge increased its intake last summer after the national grading fiasco, which led to thousands of students having their A-level results downgraded from school estimates by a controversial algorithm before Ofqual announced a U-turn. This meant a greater number of applicants then secured top grades. That also meant only 26 students were admitted last year through the adjustment scheme as Cambridge worked to accommodate the higher intake.

At the University of Oxford, about 68 per cent of new undergraduates starting degree courses this autumn will have been educated in the state sector – the same as last year.

The institution is expecting to admit around 3,265 students this October, which is in line with average acceptances in normal years.

All accepted students expecting to start in 2021 will be able to do so, with no student required to defer the start of their course, the university has said.

The figures come after 44.8 per cent of UK A-level entries were awarded an A or A* grade, up from 38.5 per cent last year, after exams were cancelled for the second year in a row due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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