University access research

20 August 2015

In response to university access research by Dr Vikki Boliver, Director General of the Russell Group Dr Wendy Piatt said:

“Ensuring our doors are wide open to able students from all backgrounds really matters to Russell Group universities. Our institutions are fair and treat each individual application on its own merits.

“Admissions teams look at a range of information to judge an applicant’s suitability for the course. These include grades, personal statements, teacher references and sometimes interviews and extra tests. This ensures applicants with real potential can be identified from among a field of highly qualified candidates, who may all look outstanding on paper.

“Real progress has been made over the last few years: the numbers of Black students accepted by Russell Group universities went up 40% between 2010 and 2014 and the number of Asian students by 13%. But we are keen to see this trend continue further.

“As the author herself admits, a crucial piece of the jigsaw is missing because the research takes no account of the entry requirements for the courses that students apply to. Many good students haven’t taken the subjects needed for entry. Our institutions are constantly trying to spread the word that with the right grades in the right subjects a place at a Russell Group university is well within grasp. However, students need good advice and information from a range of key sources.

“In addition, the research does not take account of the quality of the application overall, including factors such as the personal statement, or an applicant’s performance at interview.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The UCAS 2014 End of Cycle report showed that with regard to UK-domiciled students:
    • The number of Black students accepted by Russell Group universities has gone up from 1,690 in 2010 to 2,360 in 2014.
    • The number of Asian students accepted at Russell Group universities has increased by 1,050 from 7,285 in 2010 to 8,335 in 2014.
    • The number of ‘Mixed’ ethnicity students accepted at Russell Group universities has gone up 780 during the same timeframe, from 2,760 to 3,540.
  2. Our report Opening doors - understanding and overcoming the barriers to university access and accompanying films explore the underlying barriers that cause less advantaged students to be under-represented at highly-selective universities and looks at how Russell Group universities are helping to overcome these.
  3. Our guide Informed Choices, first published in 2011, is put together in collaboration with the Heads of Admission at the 24 Russell Group universities and 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.

Policy area

Related case studies