Cambridge vows to end dearth of northern undergraduate applicants

February 25, 2005

A North-South divide in applications for undergraduate places at Cambridge was revealed this week as the university published details of its admissions in 2004.

The university's figures showed that, of the 14,684 undergraduate applicants last year, 21 per cent hailed from the South East and a further 15 per cent came from London.

But less than 1 per cent of applications - just 64 candidates - came from the North East, with 5 per cent from Yorkshire and the Humber and 6 per cent from the North West.

The figures also underlined Cambridge's continuing appeal to overseas applicants, with 22 per cent of all applications in 2004 coming from outside the UK.

The university said that it had a series of recruitment drives planned in the northern regions - starting with a joint event with Oxford University at St James Park in Newcastle, on March 14 - to try to encourage applications.

Geoff Parks, director of admissions at Cambridge, said: "It is not that the North East, for example, is less successful in getting offers from Cambridge, the problem is a lack of applications.

"Clearly there is a lot of work to be done, by everyone involved, in widening and raising aspirations."

There were concerns, too, about the number of applicants - just 2 per cent - from Scotland, with Wales fairing not much better at 3 per cent.

The East and West Midlands accounted for 11 per cent of applicants to the university and the South West made up 6 per cent.

Barry Sheerman, chairman of the Commons' Education and Skills Select Committee, and Labour MP for Huddersfield, said he was "deeply worried" by the figures.

He said that schools and other bodies in the North East and elsewhere also had a responsibility to encourage pupils to apply to Cambridge and Oxford.

Meanwhile, the figures revealed that 47 per cent of Cambridge applications last year came from state schools compared with 31 per cent from independent schools.

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