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Living up North could seriously hamper your chances of getting into Oxford or Cambridge.

Latest figures for the UK’s top two universities reveal a stark north-south divide, with just a handful of pupils from northern education authorities getting in compared to thousands from the home counties.

It will fuel criticism of the admission process to the elite institutions which some say is rigged against pupils who don’t go to private schools.

In the last eight years, Merseyside’s Knowsley education authority has not sent a single pupil to Oxbridge, according to the Department of Education statistics.

Nearby Halton got just three students into Oxbridge, while Sandwell, in the West Midlands, sent five.

Yet schools in Hertfordshire secured 1,885 places for pupils, those in Surrey got 1,537 in and Kent sent 1,492.

Sir Peter Lampl, of education charity The Sutton Trust, warned: “The disparity in education between different regions of England is fast becoming the new frontier of educational inequality.”

He added: “There is a real danger the impact of the pandemic will exacerbate these inequalities. Action is needed now.”

Both universities said they are “committed” to admitting pupils from all backgrounds.