University & college entrance

Almost all independent school sixth formers go on to degree courses. Three A-levels with good grades plus an AS-level (or the equivalent) are needed to get into the top university courses; two for some others. The universities warm to the IB Diploma and the new Pre-U qualifications.

There are some common indicators of strong academic schools − the proportions going to Oxbridge, to medical school and to read science. Some believe that a strong academic school sends 10% to Oxbridge (a handful send over a third, some none at all). This does not apply in Scotland, where there is a tradition of going to Scottish universities rather than south of the border.

Some schools have a large proportion of pupils going on to degrees in vocational subjects such as physiotherapy, primary education, hospitality management. More academic schools have smaller numbers going on to these vocational subjects but more going on to study, say, architecture or pharmacy. In small schools, there may be huge variations between the years.

Some people have alleged that universities discriminate against independent school candidates (inflating offers, rationing numbers) but recent ISC research found no evidence of this (“>; tel 020 7766 7070).