Sheffield university attracts more state pupils

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Sheffield University is bucking a trend seeing fewer state school pupils winning places at the country’s top institutions.

New figures show the proportion of students from private schools has risen at the top Russell Group universities – of which Sheffield is one – over the 10-year period up to 2012.

Fewer youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds are also being admitted to full-time courses, according to the Social Mobility Commission.

However, over the same period the percentage of state school students at The University of Sheffield increased – from 82.6 per cent to 83.7.

It means Sheffield is ranked fourth within the 24-strong Russell Group for state school admissions.

Deborah Fowler, the university’s head of UK and EU recruitment, said every year Sheffield exceeded admissions targets set by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

She said: “We are proud of our strong record of attracting students from diverse backgrounds, and supporting them throughout their studies.

“To make sure students from all backgrounds understand the value of a university degree, we have a strong programme of outreach activities targeting young people and adult learners from typically under-represented groups in higher education and from geographical areas with particularly low participation rates.”

Pupils from schools across South Yorkshire and Derbyshire are regularly invited to take part in a range of fun, educational activities at the university, many focusing on science, technology and medicine.

Deborah said: “Recent findings show that our efforts are really paying off.”

Sheffield Hallam University also places a high priority on attracting students from areas with little tradition of university education, and has a high percentage of state school admissions.

The report shows that overall universities are becoming more socially representative – but the trend is not reflected by the Russell Group.

Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group – universities ‘committed to the highest levels of academic excellence in both teaching and research’ – said many factors were playing a part.

She said: “Ultimately too few students from some state schools are getting the right grades in the right subjects.”