As students prepare to open their A level results next month, Education Correspondent Kat Keogh looks at the chances the region’s sixth formers have of studying at a top university.
For centuries, Oxbridge has been the seat of academic excellence, nurturing some of history’s greatest thinkers.
It’s a reputation that has continued into the 21st century, if application figures are anything to go by.
More than 17,000 people applied for an undergraduate place at Oxford for entry for the 2010 intake, up 12 per cent on the previous year, and in 2010, Cambridge unseated Harvard to top the league table of the world’s best universities according to QS World University Rankings.
Yet a study into higher education has revealed that fewer than one per cent of West Midlands’ sixth form students are offered places to study at Oxford or Cambridge.
The research, carried out by education charity Sutton Trust, shows that on average 0.6 per cent of the region’s sixth form students won places at the two elite institutions between 2007-09.
Birmingham came top of the regional table, with some 1.4 per cent of students completing sixth form studies over the three years being offered a place, with Sandwell at the bottom of the local authority table with zero per cent.
The report also revealed that just four schools and one college in the UK won more places at Oxbridge than the country’s 2,000 schools combined.
Westminster School, Eton College, St Paul’s School in Barnes, London, and St Paul’s Girls School, Hammersmith, which are all private, and Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge, a state school, produced a total of 946 out of 1,873 Oxbridge students from the UK.
So with the report showing that state pupils in areas including Hammersmith and Fulham and Buckinghamshire are more than 50 times as likely to be offered a place than those in Sandwell, why do so few of the region’s students make it to Oxbridge?
Aspiration levels at schools, in families and the wider communities can play a part, according to Lesley Kendall, who analysed the data on behalf of the Sutton Trust.
She said: “In a lot of areas in England, the idea of higher education is still relatively new, so we must not take for granted that everyone will apply to university.