The access watchdog The university says that students' backgrounds should be taken into account when awarding places to improve "equal opportunities."
Level A ratings are only a "solid measure" if they are also considered " context "of the applicants, says Chris Millward.
Many universities provide additional help to disadvantaged applicants, but a report warns of the lack of
All Russell Group colleges use some form of "contextual admissions."
Major universities have faced accusations of being socially exclusive and recruiting very few applicants for ethnic minorities.
But they also face scrutiny for being unfair individual applicants that could lose places for disadvantaged candidates with worse results.
A group report Fair Education Alliance campaign says there must be a lot more information The campaign group, of more than 100 educational and business organizations, says that this may include taking into account family income, whether an applicant lives in the country or not. a disadvantaged area or if they attended a school with poor exam results or where few students enter the university.
There may be additional consideration given to the applications of disadvantaged students or they may be offered places in lower grades.
But the report says that there must be much more clarity about these decisions and how different forms of disadvantage are defined.
The research for the report, carried out by the University of Exeter, shows the extent of the challenge – with figures showing how few places in 2016 were awarded to applicants from areas with few young people going to university.
The University of Cambridge had only 3% of participants from such "low participation neighborhoods", the University of Bristol 3.7%, Oxford 4.6% and Exeter 5.3%.
'Where a student grew up'
Mr. Millward, the Student Office 'director of fair access and participation, said: "We are very far from equal opportunities in relation to access to higher education."
Universities are in charge of their own admissions, so the director of fair access can encourage but not instruct.
But Mr. Millward said: "An ambitious approach to contextual admissions must be central to our strategy if we are to advance in the access to the scale and pace needed to meet the expectations of the government, students and the general public."
"Level A ratings can only be considered a solid measure of potential if they are considered along with the context in which they are achieved," she said.
Sarah Stevens, of the Russell Group, said that all of its universities used "contextual data" in some way.
"Qualifications and predicted grades are a key indicator of academic ability, but universities take into account a number of other factors to understand achievement. of the applicant in context, "he said.
" This includes the school or university that he attended, where a student grew up, whether he is a caregiver or the first in his family in enter higher education. "