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11th November 2015

University funding body mixes up state vs privately educated students statistics

HEFCE admit statistics released this summer, suggesting state school students did better at university than privately educated students, were reversed

In a report released this summer by the university funding body, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) claimed that state sector students were more likely to obtain a first or an upper-second at university than independent sector students.

It has now been revealed that these statistics were actually the other way around.

The HEFCE has now admitted that the statement released over last summer that 82 per cent of state school graduates are more likely to achieve a first or an upper second classification compared to that of 73 per cent of private school students, were in actual fact in reverse.

HEFCE’s mistake has enraged many independent sector head teachers, including the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference that represented 270 the top independent sector schools and the Girls’ School Association.

Hilary French, the headmistress of the Newcastle High School for Girls specified: “We all want every pupil to reach their full potential but this will only happen if society takes the right actions based on true facts. Pretending that most state school pupils do better at university won’t help them actually do better.”

This mistake was initially found by Professor Alan Smithers, of the Centre for Education and Employment Research (CEER) at Buckingham University. He claims that although HEFCE changed the figures within the report, they did not carry out a public correction on the issue.

He further argues: “So long as these figures out there are uncorrected, they will continue to influence both perceptions of schools and how universities are expected to go about recruiting students.”

He also claims that HEFCE need to straighten out these figures to depict a truer picture. HEFCE corrected this and added, “for all but those with the very highest A-level grades, state school graduates tend to have higher degree outcomes.” They also claim to have reversed the available information on their website and on social media.

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