Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics

A small majority


From SPIEGEL’s article about the Oxford PPE degree, where the rich and powerful met when they were only rich and young:

Tatsächlich kommt die Mehrzahl aller Oxford-Studenten von Privatschulen, die sich nur sehr wohlhabende Eltern leisten können: Obwohl nur sieben Prozent aller britischen Schüler auf Privatschulen gehen, machten sie 2013 in Oxford satte 44 Prozent der Studienanfänger aus.

Indeed, the majority of Oxford students come from private schools, that only very wealthy parents can afford: Although only seven percent of British children attend private schools, they were 44 percent of the matriculants at Oxford in 2013.

Even a government minister who studied PPE could tell that 44 percent isn’t a majority…

The article continues, quoting Danny Dorling, on Oxford Geographie-Professor in Oxford as saying

Vier Privatschulen und eine hochselektive staatliche Schule schicken mehr Studenten nach Oxford als die restlichen 2000 staatlichen zusammen genommen…

Four private schools and one highly selective state school send more students to Oxford as the remaining 2000 state schools put together…

I have to assume that this has been misquoted or mistranslated. There are not 2000 (or 2001) state secondary schools, but more than 3000. There are about 6600 undergraduates from state schools and 5200 from private schools. That would mean that at least 1400 undergraduates — about 400 a year — come from this one state school, and presumably a lot more.

My guess is, what he really said (or meant to say) is that these five schools send more students to Oxford than the bottom 2000 schools. Which doesn’t sound so strange, actually. The average number of Oxford places per school is less than one/year. In any given year most schools would send no one to Oxford. Even if schools were all equally good, if there are highly selective schools, they would be expected to send a large number of students to Oxford.

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