Deaf pupils are less likely to go on to attend one of the UK's leading universities than their classmates, a charity has warned.
The National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) is raising concerns about access to Russell Group institutions and is calling on the universities to take action.
The Russell Group represents 24 institutions that are highly selective – requiring students to achieve top grades – including Oxford and Cambridge. They are often considered among the best universities in the country.
Data obtained from the Department for Education by the charity via freedom of information requests shows that, in England, 9 per cent of hearing-impaired pupils went on to a Russell Group university in 2015-16 after studying for A-levels or equivalent qualifications, compared with 17 per cent of all students.
In addition, 18 per cent of young people without any kind of special educational need (SEN) went to one of these institutions, along with 11 per cent of those identified with any type of SEN.
The figures, which cover state-funded mainstream schools only, also show that overall, 56 per cent of deaf young people went on to higher education, compared with 60 per cent of all students.
Deaf pupils 'should have equal opportunities'
The findings come just weeks before teenagers across the country receive their A-level results and learn if they have achieved the grades needed to secure university places.
Susan Daniels, NDCS chief executive said: "The 50,000 deaf children and young people in the UK should have the same aspirations and the same opportunities to thrive and succeed in life as any other children.
"While we celebrate the fact that deaf young people who complete their A-levels now go to university at a similar rate to hearing young people, clearly there is still a big problem when it comes to entering our top universities.
"Russell Group universities need to get a grip on this problem. They need to work out what's working and what isn't.
"They need to learn from some of the innovative programmes that have been developed to get children from disadvantaged backgrounds into university."