By Natasha Livingstone
Durham has the sixth lowest rate for state school entry in the UK, government figures have shown.
Although the proportion of state school students at Durham has in fact risen by 2%, other institutions have seen a faster rate of increase.
The figures, released on 1st February by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), reveal that the percentage of young full-time students from state schools commencing study at Durham University increased from 60.5% in 2015/16 to 62.9% in 2016/17.
This compares against the national average of 90% state school entrants in 2016/17. This means Durham has risen from the third lowest university for state school entry in 2015/16 to the sixth. The University is ahead of Oxbridge, with 5.3% more state school undergraduates than Oxford and 0.3% more than Cambridge.
Durham has seen improvements in social mobility, as the percentage of young full-time first degree students from low participation neighbourhoods at Durham has increased from 5.1% in 2015/16 to 5.2% in 2016/17. The greatest growth regards mature degree students from low participation neighbourhoods, which has risen from 9.2% in 2015/16 to 18% in 2016/17.
Looking forward, the University’s Access Agreement for 2018/19 commits Durham to an investment of £11.5 million in outreach, student success, progression and evaluation activities. This will include using contextual admissions to enable students with potential to attend Durham, including varying entry grade requirements by one or two grades to take account of disadvantage. University officials also plan to expand the Supported Progression scheme and create a centre for academic development.
In response to HESA’s findings, Professor Alan Houston, Durham Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, told Palatinate: “At Durham University we are focused on providing the very best education and empowering our students to succeed. We welcome students from all backgrounds with merit and potential and we have robust systems in place to ensure our admissions process is fair and transparent.
“Our new Access Agreement marks a step-change in our approach. We welcome the progress demonstrated by these Performance Indicators and in consultation with our partners we will build on progress we have made to date through experience, data and research.”