Comprehensive school pupils should be allowed into universities on the back of lower GCSE and A-level grades than students from grammars and fee-paying private schools, according to new research.
A study commissioned by the
An independent school-educated student was 10% less likely to get a first or a 2:1 degree than a student educated at a comprehensive when they had the same A-level results and were studying the same subject at similar universities.
Crawford's research suggested that Oxford, Cambridge and other universities "may wish to consider lowering their entry requirements for pupils from non-selective or low-value-added state schools". But she was careful not to propose any specific difference in grade requirements.
Crawford added that the fact that "there are these systematic differences" in student performance means that "one thing that could be done is for universities to recognise that in the offers they are making to students. . . I'm definitely not saying everybody should do it, universities need to make their own decisions."
The research also found that comprehensive pupils with equivalent grades were less likely to drop out, failing to complete their degrees.
Crawford's study comes after research by the
The study also finds that the bulk of university access campaigns, aimed at boosting the comprehensive school intake into some of
University access schemes "targeted at students beyond the end of compulsory education are unlikely to be able to eliminate the differences in [higher education] participation that we observe between pupils from different types of schools", it says.
"This valuable research confirms the importance of students getting good advice on their subject choices at school," said
"It also shows there is an 'achievement against the odds' effect - students getting to university in spite of attending a poorer school are more likely to do well once they get there."
"Admission to university is and should be based on merit, and any decisions about admissions must also maintain high academic standards."
In the report Crawford concluded it should be "of particular concern to policymakers interested in widening participation in higher education" if pupils from certain backgrounds were less likely to go to top universities, especially if those same students "outperform those from elsewhere once they are at university, even after accounting for their qualifications, subjects and grades on entry".
The DfE study shows that, on average, pupils from comprehensive and poorly performing schools go on to do better at university than private-school pupils with the same A-level grades Photograph:
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