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Tuesday, 17 October, 2000, 00:09 GMT
Cambridge fears fall in state pupils
King's College, Cambridge
State school applications to Cambridge had been rising
The row over Laura Spence and accusations of Oxbridge elitism may have led to a drop in the number of state school students applying to Cambridge University.

Admissions staff say initial estimates suggest state school applications may be down for the first time in 12 years.


Oxford have announced their number of applications are down and we sense it is the same with us

Admissions director Susan Stobbs
Admissions director Susan Stobbs stressed that the actual figures would not be clear until the end of the week, following the application deadline of 15 October.

But she said she was concerned that the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown's criticism over Oxford University's rejection of comprehensive pupil Laura Spence had adversely affected applications to Cambridge.

"Our great fear this year is that because it has become a political issue, it will make it harder to achieve what we want because people don't like being used as a political football.

"Oxford have announced their number of applications are down and we sense it is the same with us. It would be the first time for 12 years that it was down."

'Irresponsible'

Shadow Education Secretary, Theresa May put the blame firmly at Mr Brown's door.

"These latest figures are likely to show how irresponsible his words were.

Laura Spence
Laura Spence: Rejected by Oxford
"In one speech he has done more to discourage state school pupils from aspiring to go to our leading universities than anyone else.

"Labour's insistence on levelling down standards has resulted in low expectations of pupils in state schools."

According to performance tables published this month by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Cambridge has one of the lowest proportions of former state school pupils - with 53% of its students from state schools.

But the figure for Oxford University is the lowest in the United Kingdom, with only 50% of students having attended state schools.

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See also:

04 Aug 00 | Education
Oxford reveals state school offers
19 Jul 00 | Education
Cash to widen university access
15 May 00 | Education
Oxford seeks state school students
05 Oct 00 | League Tables
Social inclusion in higher education
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