Response to DfE-commissioned research on school characteristics and university outcomes and admissions

06 June 2014

Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said:

“Russell Group universities take a range of factors into account when deciding which students are offered a place. Candidates' academic success is already considered in a broader context, and admissions tutors are skilled at assessing applicants individually and holistically to identify real talent and potential. The bottom line is we want to give places to the pupils with the qualifications, potential and determination to succeed.

"However a ‘systematic’ or ‘blanket’ approach to the use of contextual information is problematic because it can rely too heavily on data which is limited in how far it can reveal a true picture of the candidate’s background. 

“This report confirms that those with the highest grades at school and college do better at university. A recent HEFCE report showed little difference in achievement at degree level for those pupils with the highest A level grades - whether from state or private schools. This report shows the same thing when looking at pupils who score in the top 20% at A Level. These are the students who make up the majority of successful applicants at Russell Group universities. 

“This new analysis also reiterates the importance of ensuring that pupils from all schools make the right choices over their subjects and qualifications at key stage 4, and the importance of getting good grades at this level. 

“Admission to university is and should be based on merit, and any decisions about admissions must be fair and maintain high academic standards.”

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