The Royal Academy of Music, which had the lowest state school intake in the countryPhilafrenzy

Cambridge had the fifth lowest intake of state school students of any UK higher education institution in 2016, according to government statistics.

Figures published yesterday by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) examine how successful UK institutions have been at widening participation through various statistical measures, including state school intake.

62.6% of Cambridge’s 2016/17 intake of home students came from state schools, a slight increase on the previous year’s figure of 61.9%. Cambridge admitted a higher proportion of state school students than Oxford in both years – Oxford’s intake was 55.7% state educated in 2015/16, and 57.7% the following year.

The figures make Oxford the Russell Group institution with the lowest state entry rate for 2016. Of the group, Queen Mary University of London had the highest rate, at 90.1%.

The only institutions to admit a smaller proportion of state school students than Oxford and Cambridge were the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal Agricultural University and the Courtauld Institute. Only 44.1% of the Royal Academy of Music’s intake came from state schools last year.

Nationally, 90% of students entering higher education came from state schools.

HESA’s analysis comes shortly after it emerged that Cambridge offered more places to women than men for the first time in its history last year, although more men went on to take up their offers.


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1,660 women were given offers to study at the University in 2017, compared to 1,645 men. However, only 1,275 female offer holders took up a place at Cambridge, slightly fewer than the 1,315 male offer holders to do so.

Oxford also offered more places to women than men for the first time last year, but exactly the same number of women and men took up places there – 1,275.

It is thought that Cambridge’s state school intake for this academic year will be a record high. Although the exact proportion is not known as figures for 2017 have not yet been published, Varsity reported in September that it will be between 63.3% and 64%.

The proportion of state-educated students admitted to Cambridge has been growing steadily over the past decade, and has increased every year since 2013.