Education & Family

Oxbridge dominates list of leading UK people

Eton College
Image caption Eton College educated 330 people on the elite list

A third of the UK's leading people went to Oxford or Cambridge universities and four out of every 10 of them attended private schools, a report suggests.

Ten top independent boys' schools alone produced 12% of the country's professional elite, it indicates.

The analysis of the backgrounds of nearly 8,000 people was carried out by charity the Sutton Trust.

Its chairman, Sir Peter Lampl, said private schools should be open to all on the basis of ability not finance.

The educational trust, helped by an Institute of London researcher, looked at the backgrounds of 7,637 people educated in UK secondary schools who featured in the birthday lists of national and Sunday newspapers in 2011.

Out of these, some 31% went to Oxford or Cambridge and another 20% went to another leader university.

Overall some 44% of those on the list went to independent school, 27% to grammar school, 8% to a former direct grant school and 21% to comprehensives and other state schools.

And Eton College alone educated 330 leading people on the list - some 4% of the nation's elite.

The profession most dominated by Oxford and Cambridge graduates was the diplomatic service at 62%, followed by the law at 58% and the top echelons of the civil service at 55%.

Nearly half of the UK's top literary figures went to Oxford or Cambridge (48%) and 47% of those in financial services or the City.

The list features actors such as Jeremy Irons, Daniel Day-Lewis and Kate Winslet, all of whom were privately educated.

Who's Who

And it features broadcasters such as Tony Blackburn, Rory Bremner, Jeremy Clarkson and Jonathan Dimbleby, again all former independent school pupils.

The analysis follows a series of reports the Sutton Trust has published on school and university backgrounds of those in leading professions, including national news journalists, judges and MPs.

A recent study indicated independent schools made up 7% of school population yet had produced most leading news journalists, medics, chief executives and 70% of barristers and judges.

For this latest study the school and university backgrounds of leading people were obtained using a number of publicly available sources such as Who's Who, personal websites and by contacting them directly.

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