UCAS admissions data - 2016

26 January 2017

Commenting on the UCAS equalities data, Russell Group Director General Dr Wendy Piatt said:

The root causes of under representation are complex and a wide range of factors need to be taken into account to fully understand them. This data from UCAS helps us to explore the complexities involved. However, we must remember that this data does not take into account some important aspects of the application such as subject choice and relevance to degree course, the exact profile of the predicted grades, or other factors such as the personal statement, teacher references, interviews, tests, work experience or portfolios.

Our universities are working tirelessly to encourage bright candidates to apply as we want talented, able students from all backgrounds to know that a place at our universities is well within reach. However, the highly-quality of our institutions means that there is strong competition for each place. In 2017-18 the 20 Russell Group universities in England alone will be investing £254 million in scholarships, fee waivers and bursaries and outreach activities aimed at the most disadvantaged to help those with the ability to attend.  We recently launched Advancing Access, an on-line platform that provides a wide range of vital resources for teachers to ensure that pupils who have the promise and potential to attend a Russell Group university are given the best opportunity to succeed.


Notes to editors


  1. The numbers of black, Asian and Mixed race students entering Russell Group universities have all increased since 2010:
  •          Numbers of black students accepted by RG universities have gone up by 78%, from 1,690 in 2010 to 3,005 in 2016.
  •          Asian students accepted at RG universities have increased by 34%, from 7,285 in 2010 to 9,735 in 2016.
  •          Numbers of ‘Mixed’ ethnicity students accepted at RG universities have gone up by 52% in the same timeframe, from 2,760 to 4,185.
  1. The UCAS figures only look at 18-year-old applicants. We know that many black students at Russell Group universities apply when they are over 21, which means they are not included in UCAS datasets.
  2. Students eligible for free school meals are significantly less likely to achieve 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE including English and Maths than their more advantaged peers (33.1% vs 60.9% in 2015 according to DfE data published earlier this year). They are also significantly less likely to achieve the EBacc than their more advantaged peers (9.9% vs 26.6%).
  3. In 2016 (in the UK excluding Scotland) only 765 young black applicants applied with grades equivalent to AAA or better. Just 17% of black students applied with grades equivalent to AAB or better compared to 29% of Asian students, 33% of mixed ethnicity students and 31% of white students.
  4. Research from the Sutton Trust has also shown independent school applicants are more likely to submit statements that are carefully crafted, written in an academically appropriate way, and filled with high status, relevant activities.
  5. Our guide Informed Choices,  includes advice on the best subject combinations for a wide range of university courses as well as advice on the best choices for students if they don’t know what they want to study after school and need to keep their options open.
  6. The Russell Group holds biennial conferences for teachers at schools in disadvantaged areas or with low rates of progression to higher education. The conferences cover a range of topics including subject choice, the application process and writing references and personal statements. To widen the reach of these conferences, materials and presentations have been developed into an online resource to help teachers who are unable to attend - Advancing Access.
  7. The Russell Group report, Opening Doors, Understanding and overcoming the barriers to university accesspublished in 2015,and accompanying films examine the root causes of under-representation of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and give examples of what Russell Group universities are doing to help tackle the problem.
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