University Entrance

One question that I am often asked by prospective parents is whether I feel that there is any bias against pupils from Independent Schools when applying to university.  I am happy to say that this is far from the case.  The Headmaster’s and Headmistresses’ Conference has just produced this data regarding university admissions across the whole independent school sector:


University offers   2014 was an exceptionally good year for pupils in Independent Schools applying to university.     The headlines (sample of 145 HMC/GSA schools) are as follows.

  • Our pupils’ offer rate (% of all applications receiving an offer) has risen again and now stands at 79.7%.
  • For schools returning figures in over five consecutive years (2010-14) the offer rate has increased from 70.5% to 77.7%.
  • The % of applicants receiving at least one offer has also risen again and now stands at 97.7%.
  • In 2014, 67.1% of applications were to courses at Russell Group universities (up from 64.9% in the 2013 sample).  The offer rate for here was 76.5% (up from 74.7% in the 2013 sample).

Other results:

  • In medicine 66.3% of applicants received at least one offer.  Equivalent figures for dentistry and veterinary science were 71.0% and 65.2%.
  • HMC and GSA pupils covered by the survey were six times more likely to apply to university for MFL than were all applicants using UCAS in 2014.  Our schools remain central to the survival of MFL courses at university.
  • The number of deferred applications plummeted in 2011 to avoid the first year of £9,000 fees and has not recovered since (7.8% in 2014 compared to 12.5% in 2010). Gap year take-up has not bounced back to pre-2011 levels.At Nottingham High School we are proud of our record at getting students into top universities.


  Russell Group Oxbridge Other Sutton Total Other Universities Colleges Re-apply Jobs
Year Med Den Other Med Den Other            
2014 12 3 39 1 13 4 72 12 0 13 3
2013 7 44 0 0 10 10 71 10 2 14 3
2012 11 1 56 2 0 4 2 76 7 1 13 3
2011 16 44 2 3 4 69 13 2 13 3
2010 13 32 7 7 59 21 3 15 2
2009 12 40 1 6 9 68 13 1 14 4
2008 13 41 10 11 75 8 2 13 2

All figures quoted above are percentages. [Colleges = FE Colleges, Music and Art Foundation] The Sutton Trust identifies thirty universities in England, Scotland and Wales as highly selective – with only 10% or lower of places attainable with grades of 2D and 1C. The same institutions are identified by The Times University Guide. The Sutton Trust includes some institutions [Leicester, Sheffield, St Andrews etc.], which are highly selective but were not included in the Russell Group when this table was first compiled. Percentages are shown in the table based on information published annually at Speech Day. Each year a group of post A Level students choose to re-apply often to seek places on more competitive courses.  

Last year we were thrilled that once again so many boys gained places at their first or second choice university, 83% of those who applied did so in 2014 and this figure has remained constant over many years – some of those who do not get in have also exceeded expectations so choose to apply again the following year.  The Government’s decision to offer universities guaranteed funding for students gaining A, B, B grades is clearly helping to ensure that many of our students are able to secure places at their first choice university. It is pleasing that there are no obvious signs that our students are being discriminated against because they attend an independent school – the last three years have been our most successful in students gaining places at their first choice university.

Even for the most competitive courses we had an incredibly strong year last time around with a fantastic 13 of our students securing Oxbridge places.  There are many schools with similar results to our own who do not secure anywhere near as many Oxbridge places so I am certain that all the work that is put into this aspect of school life adds real value.  Whilst not all of our brightest students choose to apply to Oxbridge it is very pleasing to see so many of those who do so successful.  The same is true with applications to Medical courses this year with 13 successful in gaining places to read Medicine and a further 3 to read Dentistry.  The success though does not end there as even beyond all of these are other students who choose the best universities around for their particular course and there are so many who have been successful in getting into the top Russell Group universities for a wide range of different subjects.   So, to conclude, I am as confident as I possibly can be that none of our students are discriminated against and that we are hugely successful in equipping our students to attend some of the very best universities in the country.