Entry grades and degree results have risen at the Bristol University department accused last year of social engineering by making lower offers to students from poorly performing state schools.
The historical studies department has seen the average A-level grade offer rise from BBC to AAB/ABB in the past three to four years. The number of first-class degrees awarded increased from 5.7 per cent in 1986 to 11.9 per cent in 1996 to 18.3 per cent this year.
Revealing the results in The Times Higher , Eric Thomas, vice-chancellor, said they showed that widening access had "enriched up", not "dumbed down", academic life.
He said that a more socially diverse student body had led to a "better learning environment". A Bristol spokesman stressed that while there was "some sense of vindication", there was "no triumphalism or crowing".