An MP has urged the government to take action over the low numbers of students from North Wales getting into Oxford.
Between 2006 to 2010, just 47 students admitted into the University, only 278 applications to Oxford came from North Wales.
The issue was raised by Wrexham Labour MP, Ian Lucas, who urged the Government to take action, saying that applicants from North Wales were not necessarily less intelligent than anyone, but are instead, hindered by an unfair system.
The 278 applicants came from the Conwy, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Denbighshire, Anglesey and Wrexham counties; all six of which were in the bottom 35 of the 179 education authorities in the country. In 2011, applications to Oxbridge from North Wales were numbered at 141.
By way of comparison, there were almost 2000 applicants each in the affluent Hampshire and Hertfordshire regions – about a tenfold increase from the combined total of applicants from Northern Wales.
Mr Lucas, who attended state school before reading Jurisprudence at New College, said that Northern Welsh students were bright, but the admissions system, especially at the interview stage, was biased against them.
He said: “I think the admission system is desperately unfair and prejudiced against applicants from non-traditional sources.”
Mr Lucas has acted on the findings, raising the issue with Business Secretary Vince Cable, the Minister in charge of universities. He said that his question to
Mr Cable was whether or not the interview in the admission process prevented transparent consideration of the admissions criteria.
A spokesman for the University said that the figures did not reflect the quality of the applications to the University. He said: “The most important factor in limiting the number of students who can apply and get into Oxford is attainment, pure and simple. There is a very uneven distribution of students getting the grades necessary to apply. There is simply no point citing the number of applicants in any given area without knowing how many students are getting the grades to even consider applying.”
Sheena Loeffel, a first-year Chemistry student in Teddy Hall who lives in Wales said: “Schools in Wales, especially the state schools, do not support the student applicant enough. Personally, I had no preparation whatsoever. Further, the government don’t give Welsh education authorities as much money as they give the English authorities so Welsh students apply to Welsh universities because they can get the scholarships for Welsh speaking people.”