2017-2018 saw a 5% increase of successful St Andrews applicants hailing from state rather than private schools, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Last year, 60% of students came from state schools, meaning that 40% of students were privately educated. This year 65.4% of students came from state schools and 34.6% from private.
St Andrews has accepted more students from state schools this year than they have for the past four years. However, St Andrews still remains the top university in Scotland to accept the most privately educated students, albeit joint first with the University of Edinburgh, and in the top five in the UK.
The University of Edinburgh has seen a decrease in students from state schools over the years, last year they accepted 0.9% more students from state schools than this year, and 4.4% more state educated students in 2015-2016. The next highest acceptor of privately educated students in Scotland is the University of Aberdeen with 84.5% of their students coming from state schools, compared to the 65.4%of the University of St Andrews and the University of Edinburgh.
Overall, 10.7% of students accepted into Scottish universities were privately educated, 10% in the UK. According to the Independent School’s Council, privately educated pupils make up 6.5% of UK students,with 93% being accepted into university; 5% into Oxbridge and 49% being accepted into other Russell Group universities.
Across the UK, St Andrews comes behind Oxford (with 61% state-educated students); Exeter (with 64.7%); Cambridge (65.3%); and Durham (65.7%).
In response to these numbers, a University spokesperson has said, “Put very simply, we made more offers to applicants from state schools than ever before, but the number of state school pupils who accepted our offers fell by 2.2%. Acceptances by independent school applicants fell by 2.0%
“By themselves, these figures give a very narrow and misleading view of St Andrews’ considerable progress in widening access to higher education. We don’t recruit on the basis of whether an applicant comes from a state or independent school, we look for academic potential, no matter their school type.”