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Proportion of state-educated students at Cambridge hits record level

A record proportion of students starting at Cambridge University this autumn went to state schools, figures show.

University of Cambridge Credit: PA

More than two thirds of new undergraduates at the prestigious institution were educated in the state sector, according to early admissions data published by the university.

It means that the proportion of privately-educated students taking up places has fallen. Around one in four of those beginning degrees this year are from under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds.

School leaders welcomed the rises, but warned there is still a "long way to go" in improving representation. Private school heads said they support widening access to top universities for all bright students, provided that measures of disadvantage are "sophisticated and intelligently applied".

Cambridge's initial figures for students starting degree courses this autumn (2019/20) show that more than 68% were taught at state schools. This is up from 65.3% last year, and 62.1% in 2015.

Cambridge, along with other leading institutions such as Oxford University, has come under increasing pressure in recent years to diversify the student population.

"We are very pleased the University of Cambridge is admitting more students from state schools and from disadvantaged backgrounds.

"However, there is still a long way to go in improving representation given that about 93 percent of pupils are taught in state schools in England compared to the 68 percent admitted this year by Cambridge."

– Geoff Barton, Association of School and College Leaders