77% of students starting at Russell Group universities are state educated
More than three in four students starting at leading universities are state educated, figures show.
The proportion of youngsters from state schools at Russell Group institutions has risen in the last decade, according to analysis of official data by the Press Association.
Private school pupils are still two and half times more likely to join one of the leading universities than their state-educated peers.
The figures, based on data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency for the last 10 years, show that in 2014/15, 77.2% of entrants to Russell Group universities - considered the best in the country - were from state schools.
This is up from 74% in 2004/05.
Nottingham had the biggest increase in the proportion of students from state schools, up 10.1 percentage points, while Exeter had the biggest fall, down 4.8 points.
Of all state school pupils going to university last year, nearly one in four (23%) joined a Russell Group institution, compared with nearly six in 10 (59.8%) of those educated at private schools.
Oxford and Cambridge have seen a rise in the proportion of state school pupils admitted in the last 10 years (up 2.3 points and 5 points respectively), the analysis shows.
Queen's University Belfast had the highest proportion of state-educated pupils in 2014/15 at 98.5%, followed by Queen Mary University of London at 87.9%.