No room at the top


This latest report from UK think tank Onward looks at how the growth of overseas students has displaced UK students at Britain’s top universities.

This briefing finds that the dramatic growth of overseas students at the UK’s top universities has pushed down the number of students from the UK. Among the key findings of the report: The number of state school pupils admitted to Oxford and Cambridge has not increased for 20 years. Admissions from state schools peaked in 2002, when 3,343 state school pupils were admitted. In 2018, just 3,166 were admitted. Between 2002 and 2018 the number of UK state school pupils admitted fell 5% while the number of UK independent school pupils fell 23%. The proportion of students admitted to Oxbridge from the UK has declined from 88% in 2008 to 78% in 2018. The number of 18 year olds in the UK set to grow by a fifth between 2018 and 2030. This means that if numbers of state school pupils continue to flatline, their odds of getting into Oxbridge will decline. High entry requirement universities in England have grown their numbers of overseas students rather than the number of UK students. Between 2014/15 and 2018/19 the dozen highest entry requirement universities in England added 4,895 more first year undergraduates from outside the UK, but only 350 from the UK: a 35% increase and a 1% increase respectively. At the dozen universities in England with the highest entry requirements, the proportion of overseas students rose from 27% to 33% between 2014/15 and 2018/19. Looking at UK universities as a whole it rose far less, from 17% to 19%.

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