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Just 1% of Oxbridge students qualified for free school meals

22 December 2010

UCU today responded to a report from the Sutton Trust released today that shows that just 1% of Oxbridge students qualified for free school meals.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The government can say we're all in it together as often as it likes, but the public are not stupid. When you slash grants for the poorest children at college, abandon the AimHigher programme that was focused on supporting poor people in applying to university, cut university places and triple the cost of a degree you send a clear message that university is only for those able to afford it.
'The government's assault on education is being done at a time when already just 1% of students going to Oxbridge qualified for free school meals. Nick Clegg can claim to be a champion of social mobility all he likes, but the policies he has backed will ensure that social mobility remains a pipe dream for far too many people.'
The Sutton Trust report 'Responding to the new landscape for university access' will be available on

Key findings include:

  • independent school pupils are over 22 times more likely to enter a highly selective university than state school children entitled to free school meals
  • independent school pupils are 55 times more likely than FSM pupils to gain a place at Oxford or Cambridge
  • independent school pupils are 6 times as likely to attend a highly selective university as the majority of children in state schools not entitled to Free School Meals
  • at the 25 most academically selective universities in England, only 2% (approximately 1,300 pupils each year) of the student intake was made up of Free School Meal pupils, compared with 72.2% of other state school pupils, and just over a quarter of the intake (25.8%) from independent schools
  • at the most selective universities of all, including Oxbridge, less than 1% of students are FSM pupils

A Sutton Trust report earlier this month showed that students from comprehensive schools are likely to achieve higher class degrees at university than independent and grammar school students with similar A-levels and GCSE results.

Last updated: 11 December 2015