IT is deplorable that being posh and southern still gives you the best chance of gaining entry to Britain’s elite places of study, but it is not a surprise.

The true scale of social inequality and regional bias at Oxbridge has been revealed by new data which shows more offers were made to Home Counties pupils than the whole of northern England.

The figures are enough to make your blood boil. 

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Oxford offered only two places to Middlesbrough students in five years. 

Eight times as many applicants from Richmond, in south west London (population 195,000) get in to Cambridge as those from Hartlepool, Middlesborough, Blackpool, Salford and Stoke combined (population almost one million).

Four out of five Oxford and Cambridge University students have parents with top professional and managerial jobs, and the number is on the increase.

Does it matter that Oxbridge is becoming less diverse? After all, Durham, Teesside, Sunderland, York and Newcastle all have excellent universities.

The short answer is “Yes.”

The difference with Oxbridge is that this is still the place where people who end up running Britain go to study and make the connections that set them on a fast track to wealth and power. Of the 56 Prime Ministers to date, 42 studied at either Oxford or Cambridge, and the two universities produce the majority of our senior judges and civil servants.

We help to fund Oxbridge - it takes more than £800m a year from the taxpayer - but a bright youngster from state school in County Durham is much less likely to follow in the footsteps of Boris Johnson and Theresa May than one attending a private school in Berkshire.

We supposedly live in a meritocracy but that cannot be the case while university admissions officers continue to be more concerned if wannabe students drop their H’s than if they’re holding a string of A’s?