State school pupils do better at university
Research by the University of Cambridge confirms that state school pupils are likely to do better at university than independent school pupils with similar A Level results.
The research investigated how effective the A* grade at A Level is as a predictor of university performance and findings confirmed previous studies about the divide between the performance of state and independent school students at university.
Researcher, Carmen Vidal Rodeiro, said: “In both Russell and non-Russell Group universities, students from independent schools were less likely to achieve either a first class degree or at least an upper second class degree than students from comprehensive schools with similar prior attainment”.
The researchers note how previous research has suggested two reasons for the finding: private school students may have lower incentives to perform well at university and therefore may invest more effort in social life rather than academic work; or they may have been ‘coached’ at school and subsequently struggle when they get to university.
The main focus of the research was into how effective the A* at A Level is as a predictor of university performance. The researchers found that the number of A* grades is a good predictor of achieving a first or at least an upper second degree in both Russell and non-Russell Group universities.
They also found that the A* was a good predictor of success in specific degree subjects. An A* in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths at A Level was a good predictor of success not only in science-orientated degrees but also in other degrees such as social sciences or creative arts.
The researchers say their work highlights the importance of a grading system that allows greater differentiation among students, as it can be beneficial for effective and fair Higher Education (HE) admissions, particularly on the most oversubscribed courses.
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