Access gap to top universities not explained by academic achievement
At least a quarter of the access gap to the top universities in England, the United States and Australia cannot be explained by academic achievement, according to new research by Sutton Trust.
The research by Dr John Jerrim, of the Institute of Education at the University of London, shows that children with professional parents are around three times more likely than those with working class parents to be admitted to Russell Group universities in England, ‘Group of Eight’ universities in Australia and highly selective US public universities, and six times more likely to go to the most selective private US universities as opposed to going to a less prestigious university.
However, in all the samples at least a quarter of the difference in admissions could not be explained by academic achievement, suggesting that many low and middle students with the grades to go to leading universities are not doing so.
The research shows that children of professionals in England are 3.2 times more likely to go to a Russell Group university than working class children, as opposed to going to a less prestigious university. However, 27% of this difference cannot be explained by exam grades.
Children of professionals are 3.3 times more likely to go to leading US public universities than working class children, and 40% of the difference cannot be explained by differences in academic achievement. At elite private US universities, where the gap between professional and working class children is 6.4 times, 52% of the difference cannot be explained by academic achievement.
Children of professionals are 2.7 times more likely to attend one of Australia’s top eight universities than working class children, with only 50% of the difference explicable by academic results.
Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “Access to elite universities is a real issue across the globe. This new research confirms that there many able children either not applying or not being admitted to the best universities, and this is true internationally.”
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