The proportion of British students admitted to the University of Cambridge from state schools has gone up by more than 7% in a year, figures show.

For the year 2007/08, maintained sector admissions stood at 59% – the highest total since 1981, the university said.

Total applications were up 2.8% from 14,105 to 14,504. Applications from state school pupils were up 4.4%.

Cambridge said it had redoubled its efforts to attract the best students, regardless of their backgrounds.

The university’s director of admissions, Dr Geoff Parks, said: “These figures are very encouraging – especially since the applications for this round would have been made prior to the introduction of our most recent measures aimed at removing potential barriers to applicants.”

‘Go for it’

He said the university and its constituent colleges would continue to build on the good work done in summer schools and outreach visits.

“Hopefully these figures will encourage any able student from a state school or college background, who’s thinking of applying to Cambridge this October, to go for it.”

Dr Parks echoed comments made generally by universities about attracting pupils from a wider range of backgrounds: “We can only consider you if you apply.”

In the latest moves to encourage more applications, Cambridge has scrapped its separate application form and associated fee, removed the requirement that every student must have a GCSE in a foreign language qualification and raised the income brackets in which students are eligible for bursaries.