Admissions statistics for October 2010, published today, show that successful applicants from the state sector made up 59.3 per cent of all home students who gained a place, an increase of 0.8 of a percentage point on the previous year.
However, the success rate for state students remains lower than that of their independent school peers: 25 per cent of UK applicants from the state sector gained a place as opposed to 33 per cent from independent institutions.
Overall, the number of applications to Cambridge rose by 2 per cent to 15,966, but the number of acceptances slipped by 2 per cent to 3,394.
Of all home students admitted, 1,609 were from state schools and colleges, a drop of 4 per cent from 2009, while 1,259 were from the independent sector, also a drop of 4 per cent from last year.
Last year was the first full admissions round since the university adopted the A-level A* grade into its standard offer.
The figures showed that 99.5 per cent of students accepted in 2010 achieved at least three A grades, while 89 per cent of successful applicants gained an A* and two As.
Geoff Parks, director of admissions, said: “We’re pleased that our admissions trends remain positive, but are also conscious that there is no room for complacency.
“We know from our research that students from all types of UK schools and colleges do equally well here, and so we must keep reinforcing the message that Cambridge is a welcoming and inclusive place.”
However, the admissions figures could reignite a bitter political race row over the number of black students at top universities.
According to the statistics, there were 151 black UK applicants to Cambridge for undergraduate courses starting in 2010. Of those accepted, two described themselves as black Caribbean, 13 as black African and one as being from a different black background.
The success rate – the proportion of applicants gaining a place – for black UK students was 11 per cent when, overall, per cent of UK students applying were accepted.
Another 71 UK applicants described themselves as being from a mixed black and white background, and 18 of those gained a place.
Overall, Cambridge stressed, the number of accepted home students who declared themselves to be from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background had increased to 15 per cent. The detailed figures show that 82 UK Asian students gained a place and 72 were of ethnic Chinese background.
Last month the prime minister angered the University of Oxford by saying that only one black UK student began a course at the institution in 2009 – a claim later clarified by Downing Street as referring to UK students of black Caribbean heritage.
In a statement, Cambridge says: “Once account is taken of levels of attainment and patterns of application, the number of students from [black, Asian and minority ethnic] backgrounds admitted to the university mirrors the national picture.”