State schools

Cambridge University expected to enroll 93% of state school students, says new college president

Cambridge University is expected to recruit 93% of its students from state schools, while those studying at Eton are expected to “go north to meet more diverse people”.

That’s the verdict for Dorothy Byrne, 69, who this week began her new role as president of the all-female Murray Edwards College in Cambridge.

The former Channel 4 news and current affairs manager said the proportion of state-educated students at Cambridge should match British society – which sees 93 per cent of pupils attend state schools and colleges.

She added that privately educated pupils need to ‘get over their obsession’ with getting into Oxford or Cambridge.

Her comments angered heads of private schools, with an association representing 600 schools accusing Ms Byrne of promoting ‘biases’, adding that Cambridge should want to attract ‘the best of the best’.

Dorothy Byrne (pictured), 69, said the proportion of state-educated students at Cambridge should match British society – which sees 93 per cent of pupils attend state schools and colleges

Ms Byrne told the Time: ‘Eton students would be very lucky to get into the universities of Manchester and Sheffield.

‘It could be good for them. They could travel up north, which might be a bit of a shock for some of them, and meet more diverse people.

“I would say Boris Johnson and David Cameron would have benefited from going to the University of Sheffield [rather than Oxford].’

Ms Byrne, who studied in Manchester and Sheffield, said the ideal admission of state-trained students to Cambridge would be 93%.

She added: ‘I understand this will mean fewer students from top state schools like Eton, Harrow and Westminster will go to Cambridge, but luckily there are over 100 other fantastic universities where private school students can go and when they go to these places they will have the added benefit of meeting people who are not like them.

His comments come as around 72% of pupils starting at Cambridge this year come from state schools – the highest proportion in its 812-year history and an increase from 70.6% last year.

This figure has steadily increased in recent years, and was 58.6% in 2011.

But Ms Byrne’s suggestion to raise the figure sharply has been criticized by private schools.

Neil Roskilly, vice-chairman of the Association of Independent Schools, which represents 600 fee-paying schools, said: ‘You would imagine Cambridge should be interested in getting the best of the best.

Ms Byrne has just started her new role as president of the all-female Murray Edwards College in Cambridge (pictured)

Ms Byrne has just started her new role as president of the all-female Murray Edwards College in Cambridge (pictured)

“It’s in the interest of the university and the country as a whole.

“Any bias against particular sections of society should not be welcome. Selection should be based solely on academic merit and not on any perceived bias against any section of society.

“Cambridge should offer selection procedures that do not take background into account.

“The closer we get to a blind admission system, the better.” [Byrne] should not name individual schools.

Ms Byrne went on to praise Cambridge’s five new university principals this year, who are made up of two women, a black man, a gay man and a lieutenant general – which she said shows a surge of l historical institution to be more representative. .

‘It’s not being ‘awake’; it is to be more representative. Oxbridge did not represent the UK and they should,” she said.

More than half of university directors at Cambridge are now women.

Ms Byrne went on to praise Cambridge's five new college principals, who this year are made up of two women, a black man, a gay man and a lieutenant general - which she said showed a surge of l historic institution to be more representative (Pictured: Cambridge University file photo)

Ms Byrne went on to praise Cambridge’s five new college principals, who this year are made up of two women, a black man, a gay man and a lieutenant general – which she said showed a surge of l historic institution to be more representative (Pictured: Cambridge University file photo)

After being approached and interviewed for her new post, Ms Byrne told Murray Edwards College that she wanted to be its president because she believed predominantly white men in positions of power had botched the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. 19.

“For me, one of the main reasons I was interested in this job was that during Covid I felt that the government and the people running our main institutions were not fit for purpose,” he said. she declared.

“The people running our institutions are not good enough. There must be a lot of talent there, but it’s not materializing.

His college is one of 13 at Cambridge which, from 2022, will take 50 students with lower A-level results – usually three Bs – from poorer backgrounds and place them on a foundation year with a view to a full degree.

Ms Byrne previously found herself in hot water while on Channel 4 when she called Boris Johnson a “known liar” in 2019 and compared him to Vladimir Putin.

She has also been open about sexual harassment and ageism in the television industry.