3 March 2017

Redbrick uni gives scholarships intended for poorer teens to private school pupils

The scheme was created to help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds get into the university, but a third of places have been given to private school students.bristol uniA scheme set up to help poorer pupils get into Bristol University has been helping private school pupils gain uni places instead.

You might remember that back in December, Bristol university announced they’d be trialling a new scholarship program called the ‘Bristol Scholars Project’.

The scheme was introduced in an effort to diversify the university’s student intake, after it was revealed they have more students from private schools than Cambridge!

The uni said they’d be lowering entry requirements by two grades for disadvantaged students from every local school in Bristol, giving priority to pupils who had been in care or were eligible for free school meals.

Students admitted to the uni through the scheme with a household income of £25,000 or less would also benefit from one year’s free tuition and an additional £3,750 on top of maintenance loans to help with living costs now that grants have been scrapped.

However, the uni is now facing harsh criticism after a Bristol student newspaper revealed that 33% of the scholarship places were given to pupils from private schools who, for personal reasons such as ill health or family difficulties, didn’t get their predicted A level results.

Cambridge Uni are now offering £9,750/year studentship grants to disadvantaged students – find out more.

Why was Bristol lowering entry requirements?

Poor-Student-RecruitmentAccording to UCAS, pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are now four times less likely to apply for university, and the gap between rich and poor students is wider than ever before.

One in four children in Bristol live in poverty, but the university has one of the lowest percentages of students from state schools in the UK – even less than Cambridge.

Bristol’s scholarship scheme was therefore created as a way to give more local pupils a chance of being accepted to the Redbrick uni, and to make their student intake more diverse.

What the uni has to say…

Bristol have defended their decision to give away some of the spaces to private school pupils by claiming that “at heart” the scheme is just there to give students a second chance if their “potential is not recognised in their predicted A Level results.”

They argue that whilst the chosen students weren’t from disadvantaged backgrounds, they had experienced “ill health or family difficulties” that had impacted their A Level results.

Good luck with that goal of diversifying student intake then, Bristol!

Don’t let the cost of tuition fees put you off uni! Separate fact from fiction with these 15 common tuition fee myths debunked.

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4 Responses to “Redbrick uni gives scholarships intended for poorer teens to private school pupils”

  1. Charley

    03. Mar, 2017

    Coming from a disadvantaged background and going to private school isn’t necessarily mutually exclusive. This only says that the scholarship is for people whose parental income is less than £25,000, who would count as disadvantaged in this case. I currently receive a similar scholarship from my uni for people from areas of low socioeconomic status within the city, and my household income is below £19,000. I also went to private school! I received bursaries/scholarships to go there and had to work hard to prove I was worth the investment. While I appreciate the privilege I was given in my education, this does not mean that I was privileged socioeconomically.

  2. Morgan

    03. Mar, 2017

    I went to what you guys would probably deem as a private school (it was funded by a private finance initiative but I didn’t personally pay anything to go) and I think you guys need to lay off a little bit.

    During my final year there was an unexpected family death during my Easter revision period. There was no will or anything and so my mum (who’s parent had died) spent a lot of time trying to sort things out which turned out to be a very distressing process. I did little revision due to shock and trying to help my mum. I got back to school and struggled to catch up despite my teachers best efforts.

    I was predicted AAB (from my mock exams and from my previous years grades of AABB) but ended up with BBD which I put down to the my lack of revision and the mindset that occurred as a result of the death. (I didn’t see the point in trying to get into uni because I knew I’d missed to much time and generally felt quite shit about myself)

    I would have been classed as one of these private students who got in on a scholarship but as you can see it’s because I couldn’t reach my potential also due to something completely out of my control. I agree with Bristol uni on their statement as it’s not fair that just because I went to a private school I should have been expected to achieve the same grades as if nothing had happened to effect my life.

    (I do not receives scholarship from Bristol uni but the uni I applied to made a special exception and accepted me regardless of the D grade after I had submitted proof of the death)

    • Katie Paterson

      03. Mar, 2017

      Hi Morgan,

      The reason why Bristol uni are being criticised for allowing private school pupils in on this particular scholarship isn’t because they’re helping these students, but because the scholarship was originally created to make it easier for students from disadvantaged backgrounds get into the uni.

      Whilst we totally agree that it’s great to give students a second chance who didn’t get the grades they wanted due to difficult circumstances (much like yourself), that’s not what the scholarship was for.

      Bristol are backtracking on a very public promise they made to diversify intake – that’s where the problem is.

      Hope that makes sense!

      • Morgan

        03. Mar, 2017

        Yeah I totally get that but the way the article is written makes it sound like if a private school student goes through difficulties they shouldn’t receive help from the uni. It may just be the way that Bristol has to get them in because I know some unis only allow students in with lower grades if they’re in a certain scheme (i.e. My one). Also is it actually known if the students on this scholarship weren’t already on scholarships at their private school? It seems like there’s a lot of finger pointing when really people should be focusing more on tution fees going up which would stop the need for all these bursaries 🙃


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