Private school pupils ‘get better degrees and jobs’

In an article in the Telegraph, 05/07/13, Graeme Paton reports on figures published for the first time showing that students recruited to university from independent schools are a third more likely to be in a top graduate position several years after finishing their degree course.

The disclosure lays bear the extent to which private school pupils are seemingly better placed to capitalise on their time in higher education compared with those educated in the state system.

It comes despite repeated claims from ministers that state school students gain better degrees than privately-educated counterparts after being admitted to courses. The claims have often been used to justify lowering entry requirements for students from poor-performing state schools.

Today’s study from the Higher Education Funding Council for England tracked some 225,765 students who started university in the autumn of 2006 – the year annual tuition fees were raised from £1,000 to £3,000.

It emerged that just under half of these students qualified with a degree and went on to a good graduate job or further course.

Women were more likely to gain a good grade and move into a good career than men, it emerged.

The data also found that students educated in the state system “performed significantly less well than their peers from independent schools in terms of securing a graduate job or progressing to further study”.

Almost 65 per cent of privately-educated students who started university in 2006 went on to gain a first or upper-second class degree, against 52.7 per cent of classmates from the state system.

It also emerged that 60.4 per cent of students from fee-paying schools gained a graduate job – a skilled career – compared with just 46.8 per cent of other graduates.

The findings follow a study published earlier this week that warned of a “social chasm” between students from private and state schools on university campuses.

The study – led by researchers at Bristol University and the University of the West of England – found that wealthier students were “far more able to draw upon family resources and had access to influential social networks” to help get work experience or internships during their degree.

Sarah Howls, head of student opportunity at HEFCE, said: "Seeking to understand and, where we can, address the reasons for these differences remains a key priority.”

Chris Ramsey, head of The King’s School, Chester, and universities’ spokesman for the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, said that it showed previous research claiming state-educated pupils did better at university was “wrong”.

“By and large, the figures say that pupils from independent schools do well both at university and beyond,” he said. “That rather goes against the idea that pupils from independent schools over achieve at school and then don’t do so well at university.”

The HEFCE report classified students by different measures including sex, disability, ethnicity, qualifications and background to analyse their performance at university.

It also reveals that women performed better than men in all of the measures examined – gaining a degree, achieving at least a 2.1 and gaining a graduate position. In all, some 49 per cent of female graduates had a good job compared with 46.4 per cent of men.

The study also found wide variation by subject, with just a third of students who took “mass communications and documentation” courses – including media studies and journalism – finding a graduate job compared with two-thirds who took medicine and dentistry.

Click here to read the article © The Telegraph