COMMONS

Lack of Welsh admissions to Oxbridge examined

27 March 2017

The Welsh Affairs Committee holds a one-off session examining the level of applications by Welsh pupils to Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The Committee hears from the directors of admissions for University of Oxford and University of Cambridge.

Witnesses

Monday 27 March 2017, Grimond Room, Portcullis House

At 4pm

  • Dr Sam Lucy, Director of Admissions for the Cambridge Colleges
  • Dr Samina Khan, Director, Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, University of Oxford

Background

The Seren Network

Historically, students from schools in Wales have been underrepresented at Oxbridge colleges. A 2012 study found only 17% of Welsh applicants were accepted to Oxford compared to the UK average of 23%; for Cambridge the figures were 22% for Wales and 27% for the UK. The development of the Seren Network was intended to address this by preparing pupils for the application process and viewing elite universities as a viable option for them. The Committee will explore what impact the network has had.

The Seren Network was established following a report by Lord Murphy of Torfaen. In that report, he found that many teenagers in Wales are put off from applying to Oxford and Cambridge Universities because of a lack of academic self-confidence.

In addition, he said "Some of the students I spoke with consider Oxford and Cambridge to be elitist institutions, where background and social class are important. These misconceptions can prevent students from applying and cause added anxiety during the application process. Those Welsh students who are capable of flourishing in these systems deserve the opportunity to compete on a level playing field with all other applicants."

Chair's comment

Ahead of the session, Committee Chair David TC Davies commented:

"Historically, Wales has performed poorly in getting students to Oxford and Cambridge. Initiatives, such as the Seren Network, seem to be a positive step but are they having a positive impact? Additionally, are there other actions that can be taken by the universities and by students to ensure the brightest and best in Wales are admitted to these prestigious institutions?"

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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