Charlotte Street Partners



Access approved

Written by Charlie Clegg, senior assocaite
Edited by Scott Reid, associate partner
7 July 2021

Good morning,

As a student, my time volunteering with university admission outreach efforts was often rewarding and often frustrating. I was, therefore, delighted to read Brooke Masters’ report in the Financial Times on how elite schools are losing their grip on Oxbridge admissions.

This perceptible change is a boon on two fronts. Most importantly, it means bright pupils from less prosperous backgrounds have a better chance of attaining a high-quality university education. When alumni of two universities dominate top roles in many sectors, that’s a boost to our noble, if elusive, aspirations to meritocracy.

Second, a particular cycle of negative media coverage that fixates on low state school admissions to Oxbridge is breaking and giving way to positive cases. Take, for example, Brampton Manor in London’s East End, whose pupils this year received more Oxbridge offers than those of Eton.

For Scots, this gradual success story may seem like something that’s happening elsewhere. It shouldn’t. Scotland’s brightest state school finishers aren’t applying to Oxbridge at the rate of their peers in private schools or English state schools. When, in 2019, Cambridge admissions overall were two thirds from state schools, one third from private schools, that ratio was reversed in the case of Scottish pupils.

Yes, some factors explain the difference. Scotland doesn’t have the academy schools that, especially in London, create the biggest admissions success stories. The difference in fees can also be off-putting; though not, perhaps, as much as the persistent falsehood that students of English universities pay these upfront. But the problem and solution are issues of attitude.

Through outreach work and contextualised admissions criteria, Oxford and Cambridge are doing their part to make their undergraduate bodies more representative. But a bigger driver of change is the growing number of schools and pupils who realise Oxbridge applications are at least worth a try. That change in attitudes doesn’t seem to be catching on in Scotland yet.

There’s no reason this should be the case. Scottish students are within a manageable distance of two of the world’s top-5 universities at which they are counted as home students. The solution is for Scottish state schools, like their English or private counterparts, to see Oxbridge admissions as the next step in achievement: beyond good Highers results and admissions to Scotland’s own prestigious universities. Those pupils and teachers who want to investigate this further will find support and resources abound.

A major success story is happening in the UK’s leading universities. Scotland’s state school pupils shouldn’t continue to miss out.


Heathrow Airport is introducing fast-track lanes for fully-vaccinated arrivals. The London airport, one of the world’s largest, is hosting the trial by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. The effort comes as the UK government looks set to ease rules on returning visitors from July 19.

England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, has warned a meeting of local government officials that the UK faces a “difficult winter” of Covid. He claimed it would likely not be until spring that the UK returned to the status quo; though he also stated deaths would remain low due to the vaccine roll-out. (£)

A study of a test-to-release scheme in Liverpool has found that it saved 3,200 workers from quarantine. The scheme, which ran from November last year to April, may have prevented between 850 and 6,600 cases of Covid.

Business and economy

The EU has approved UK-based pharmaceutical giant Astrazeneca’s take-over of US rival Alexion. The £28bn deal will see Astrazeneca gain rights to five developed drugs and to twelve others Alexion is currently developing.

Vauxhall’s parent company Stellantis has announced their Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire will be the site of electric vehicle production with a £100m investment. The news secures 1,000 jobs and removes the years-long threat of closure from the site.

UK households could face a surcharge on their power bills to fund a new nuclear power station. The UK government is considering the plans as part of legislation to create the new Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk. (£)

Columns of note

In the Financial Times, Janan Ganesh looks at the US: a country whose economic growth matches mid-2000s China while its political chaos continues. For those who believe healthy democracies mean healthy economies – and vice versa – this is a challenge. But Ganesh believes this is the wrong way round. The question is not why so rich a country is so politically broken but why so broken a country is so rich. (£)

As housing availability has shrunk while prices rocket, the UK government is seeking to liberalise planning law to encourage building. In the Guardian, Anna Minton tracks the causes of this crisis and argues that just as planning laws are not the cause of the problem, easing them is not the solution.

Cartoon source: The Guardian


What happened yesterday?

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 ended a seven-day winning streak, closing down 0.20%; by contrast, the Nasdaq composite edged up 0.17%. Booming US production seems to have driven rises while news of production bottlenecks may now be stalling these increases.

In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 index closed down 0.52% while the FTSE 100 closed down 0.89%. On the currency markets, the dollar index dropped 0.04% while sterling stands at 1.17 euros and at 1.38 against the dollar.

In company news:

India’s government has ruled Twitter can be held responsible for content posted by users.

Shares in China’s Didi Chuxing had plummeted by 25% after the country’s government cracked down on foreign-listed companies.

What’s happening today?

Adept Tech.
Enteq Upstream

Schroder Eur.r

Trading announcements
Robert Walters
Ten Ent Grp

Aveva Group
Downing Strate.
Maven Income 1
Shires Inc.
Steppe Cement

Manx Financial

UK economic annoucements
(07:00) Index of Services
(07:00) Balance of Trade
(07:00) Halifax House Price Index

Int. economic announcements

(07:00) Industrial Production (GER)
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know?

Until the foundation of Durham University in 1832, Aberdeen – with Marischal College and King’s College – had as many universities as England.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Ministerial questions
Covid-19 update
Covid-19 Update: Easing restrictions in Education Settings

Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill: Second Reading

House of Lords 

Lord Stevens of Birmingham

Oral questions

Conduct Committee report ‘Further amendments to the Code of Conduct’

Skills and Post-16 Education Bill [HL] – committee stage (day 1)

Scottish parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess until 30 August 

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