Should universities take into account applicants' class?

Should class be taken into account?

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War Hero
Just seen this on the BBC site though it was in the Daily Mail.
Seems to me that its reverse descrimination. I believe that no background information should be available to universities, this includes the applicants address. Entrance to these top universities should be purely on ability.
NO NO AND NO AGAIN. Sorry to shout but this subject really made me mad when I heard it on the news yesterday. :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

Just because I have a degree and a decent income, why should this have a potentially detrimental effect on my kids ability to get to Uni should they have the academic ability and want to go down that line.

Yet another bunch of stupid bloody targets to be achieved - look what targets have done for every organisation or body the government have interfered with - totally taken them away from common sense and actually achieving what they are there to do and focus on performance and targets just so the government can say what a great job they do for yet another minority group.

If my kids work hard at school and I can afford to send them to Uni, they should have that opportunity open to them as much as some kid who has been causing problems in comp school for years and parents are on the dole.

If positive action is needed to help individuals then I will support this, as long as it is fair, equal and accessible to all.


Lantern Swinger
All this positive discrimination larky annoys me! I was in M&S collecting my weekly shop last week, a man with ONE arm was packing my bags!!!! World gone mad!


War Hero
Surely I am reading this wrong, from what I understand of the article, if you went to uni, your child goes to a good school, works hard and gets good results, they may not get into uni themselves. This can not be right. This can only lead to social dumbing down.


War Hero
kingoftwigs said:
This can not be right. This can only lead to social dumbing down.
And that is the whole point of the exercise… NuLabour want's a population of dumbed down pre-conditioned drones who will vote as ordered for the greater good of the party
Entry into ANY university should be based upon the applicants ability only. Nothing else should come into it.
It does seem to me that unserum gross-Fuehrer Bliar wants to brainwash the youth of today into believing Labour are the helpful kind truthful party, and the Tories are the evil that lie rape and pillage.

In the General Studies AS Level there is a Culture section, which is pretty much how the Current Powers that be have solved poverty and other problems in this country created by the great Scum that was Thatcher and Major. The problem being that many people having little current affairs knowledge accept this as gospel truth. I swear the Teacher was a card carrying Bliarite.

(Not saying that the Tories were the good grace of God, but Labour certainly are not better!)
So, by their logic, teenagers whose parents didn't go to Uni would have a better chance of getting a place.

Then what happens 20 years later when their kids want to go to Uni?

In other words, digging out to get yourself an education will disadvantage your own kids. Isn't this warped logic?


War Hero
I cant believe that anyone actually thought this was a good idea and gave it breathing space. Oh, hang on a second, all the politicians kids have already done uni so it wont affect them, just us poor saps who pay for every stupid idea they come up with.
ROMFT so I can fcuk off to Spain!


War Hero
You've all got this wrong! ONLY the top class should go to university.
That is, the top class at school, not in society generally. Then we might get rid of this "dumbing down - 50% - worthless degrees" rubbish that Bliar and his cronies are peddling.



War Hero
sara21 said:
All this positive discrimination larky annoys me! I was in M&S collecting my weekly shop last week, a man with ONE arm was packing my bags!!!! World gone mad!
Unfortunately they are all like that in M&S - will tell your they are 'green' too, 'fairtrade' who now owns the first 'fairtrade' mission - Cadbury, what was it, a scheme to give the cocoa farmers of Belize fair prices (from cocoa you gets chocolate) Fair! as my old GI used to say and my pr.........something to with 'bloaters' :lol:

Not that that's anything to do with the thread anyway!


I hate to be the bearer of bad news but regardless of our academic backgrounds, the important bit is that they will now be judging on parents' employment. What chance do any of us have of getting our children a university education when admissions are being judged by bleeding hearts socialists who will take one look at the words 'Armed Forces' and throw the application in the bin as 'punishment' for Bliar's expeditionary blunders.


The reality, in my experience, is that those responsible for admissions to our universities always make the "best" offers possible (ie lowest reasonably permissible taking account of competition for places on a given course) to those whom, on balance, they think will do best, and benefit most from what's on offer: this ludicrous proposal will not change that, I hope! What would, however, be worrying is if admissions were to be taken out of the hands of the academics and placed under the control of "admissions directorates" (or some other New Liarbore construction of similar ilk) staffed by "diversity officers" and the like.

One of the great strengths of the British approach is its flexibility: admissions criteria have traditionally been regarded as guidelines rather than hard & fast rules, allowing members of faculty/ departments to follow hunches and admit students who don't necessarily fit the stated "profile". For example, people have been admitted to Oxbridge with only the minimal formal academic credentials because their backgrounds/ biographies/ performance at interview etc convinced tutors of their potential. Without exception, every one of these did extremely well.

My uncle, having gone to a secondary mod school (11+ failure) & left at 15 with no quals, was admitted to medical school (1963) as a mature student with 5 O level passes & 2 modest A levels (taken at night school whilst working), a City & Guilds in mech eng, and a Registered Mental Nurse diploma. The 5 years he'd spent in the Army (REME vehicle mechanic), and 5 more years working in the NHS, impressed the hell out of the admissions panel and they gave him a place in preference to others who had far better grades in far more GCEs. Subsequently, he won the medal awarded to best all round student.

So, this is a tricky issue - yes, of course, those with the best results should get places, but there is also a good case for "making allowances" in some instances. In truth, this has always happened, and by and large, the academics get it right. Many of them are - despite popular prejudices/ stereotypes - pretty perceptive people, but I will add that the only "class prejudice" I ever came across in British universities was from those on the left of the political spectrum.

The case of Laura Spence - Broon's "cause celebre" a few years back - was an outrageous misrepresentation of reality by a political shyster with an axe to grind. Yes, her profile was impressive, but so too were those of the 20 or so other candidates competing for the 5 places to study medicine at the Oxford college to which she applied. Having taught one of the succesful candidates (incidentally, a state school pupil from an "ethnic minority"), I can only observe that she was really up against it; impressive though her profile was, it wasn't quite good enough in the context of such a competitive pool. Also worthy of note is the fact that despite her experiences, Laura Spence (having taken the offer of a scholarship to Harvard, and graduated from there last year) chose to return to the UK for med school (Harvard Med Schl, with its prohibitively high fees wasn't so appealing, methinks!), and is currently studying medicine at that other great bastion of class privilege, Cambridge Univ.

This is yet another example of a half-baked, headline grabbing, New Lab policy which could very well have unfortunate unintended consequences. If pursued in a vexatious manner (and I fear it might be!), it could force the top universities to give serious consideration to opting out of the current "public universities" system. "Oxbridge" and a few others could afford to do this, but only by charging students full fees (ie the full real cost of courses - a minimum of £10,000 pa for arts courses; £20,000+ pa for medicine, engineering, applied science etc), and then, as in the USA, we really will have an economic (and, in reality, social!) divide in higher education! Whoopee!


I don't think universities should look at whether your parents went to uni or not. What does that prove? My cousins mum has only just got herself through uni while he was going to school and inbetween working side jobs. Is that going to count against him, because she wanted to better herself? It shouldn't because it's not like she had the time nor the money to do but she struggled. Neither of my parents went to Uni, so that will stand me in good stead but my kids will suffer, why should my children suffer because I went to uni.

To some extent I find all of these new things that they're bringing in for uni's are naff. For example, if you went to private school that'll count against you. Which is incredibly stupid, I admit I went to private school. I ended up in one because I went to one school were I was bullied by the teachers who basically told me I was a waste of space etc... and by pupils, so I left there and went to live with my grandparent's who tried to get me into the local school, but there weren't any places and the only place they would offer be was a school miles away which wasn't practical to get to, an hour in the car goodness knows how long on a bus. So, my grandparent's spent all of their life savings in sending me to a private school which was fifteen minutes away. This will now count against me.

I might as well move countries seems as most countries still offer a free first degree to their citizens.


Lantern Swinger
I can see the value for a university to keep a check of exactly what minorities are applying and for what courses. That way the student union can be better tailored for the diversity. But like the questionnaire on the back of job application forms, it should be voluntary.

Universities normally do select students on purely academic merit, the best students go to the red brick universities and the less able attend the former polytechnics. Also university competitive rivalry is also a fantastic opportunity to help more students into universities. This dumbing-down rot is all very unnecessary.

Although to be honest, I think a lot of courses on offer by some universities are complete rot, for example, anyone for a BA in David Beckham Studies? You'll need to apply to Sheffield Hallam for that one. Of course there are also the degrees that are unaccredited. Without formal accreditation from a formal academic institute the degree is quite worthless, or at best, worth less.

I believe the best policy would be to permit the universities to award students of places on who the lecturing staff decide. After all, the lecturer's will be the ones teaching the students in the end.


Peter said:
I believe the best policy would be to permit the universities to award students of places on who the lecturing staff decide. After all, the lecturer's will be the ones teaching the students in the end.
Unfortunately that doesn't happen, also judging people by what they got at GCSE's and A Levels isn't judging them on their academic abilities. As anyone can be tutored through them.

In fact a Uni I was looking at the Admissions admin was saying the tutor tried last year to get about 10 people who didn't quite get the grades but were more then capable to do the course and actually wanted to do the course so they'd turn up to lectures etc... but only managed to get 2 on the course although there were more spaces.

If it's about ability as well, then how comes if you are a mature student you can get in with one A Level in stupidty or an access to higher education but if you're under 21 you have to have three A levels at A to get into some of the Uni's smells a bit to me. Whats the difference between me at 18 and 21? At 21 I should be able to write the essays better, as your ability to put across points advances as you get older, then at 18 so shouldn't it be harder for me at 21 not easier.



I understand what you're saying, and up to a point, you have a point. But, take, for example, the case of my uncle (outlined in my earlier post): he took 2 A levels in biology & chemistry (at "night school") from scratch, having never done any serious science, in 1 year, and passed with C grades. This was done whilst working full-time as a psychiatric nurse, and he had 2 young children! Quite an achievement, I feel, and the admissions tutors at Leeds Uni Med School saw this as a good indication of his commitment and motivation, and gave him a place in preference to others who had higher grades. Their decision was more than justified when 5 years later he graduated as top student.

A levels and similar qualifications are only "entry tickets", nothing more. Broadly speaking, the same applies to degrees - beyond establishing basic academic credentials, and providing a "baseline" of intellectual ability/ specific competencies (often, in fact, quite narrow), final results, in my experience, count for far less in the world of work than attributes like self-discipline, confidence, sound judgement, communication skills, commitment, sense of humour, persistence, attention to detail, initiative etc.. I work with some VERY clever people who have flawless academic profiles: some are also outstanding colleagues, but others are idiots who lack many or all of the attributes listed above.

One of the worst appointments I ever made was an individual who had a 5 As at A level, a First from Oxford, MA from London School of Economics, and a PhD from Cambridge. She was incredibly clever, and was very impressive at interview, but turned out to be arrogant, uncooperative, selfish, lacking in "people skills", and fundamentally lazy - except when advancing her own narrow interests. She left after 2 years (thank God!) having contributed nothing of value. Her replacement held a "respectable" BA from a Mid-Western US uni and an MA from the Open Uni, and was outstanding - worth her weight in gold.

On balance, I'd tend, these days, to prefer someone who achieved reasonable A level/ degree results and had done a broad range of other things (eg music, drama, sport, community service, significant work experience, travel, taken a few risks etc) to the academic "high flyer". Of course, there are some who "have it all", but these types are relatively rare.

We should never forget that Watson (one of the 3-4 scientists who unravelled the mystery of DNA) was regarded as a waster by his tutors. Churchill was an academic underachiever, and Shakespeare, Dickens and many others never went near a university. Einstein's tutors regarded him as a "mediocre" student, and awarded him the Swiss equivalent of a "pass" degree. Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web) did well at Oxford, but was not regarded as exceptional, whilst Bill Gates was a Harvard drop-out. Richard Branson got 6 O level passes, and was advised not to bother with 6th form studies - the rest is history!

Am not knocking academic achievement - far from it, but it's worth bearing in mind that excellent grades are by no means the whole story, and this is true of university life, just as of life in general. Where university admissions are concerned, there is, therefore, a good case for apportioning a certain % of places to individuals who may not have formally quite "made the grade". It's a difficult issue, but in my experience, British universities have tended to do very well in this regard - on the whole, when admissions tutors take a chance/ follow a hunch on a candidate they're not subsequently proved wrong in their judgements. Mature students (ie 21 years +) admitted on less than the standard grade requirements tend to do significantly better than 6th form entrants.

Best wishes,

Universities have to solve several problems in selecting new entrants. First and formost they need to get a quota of students, core funding is n a per capita basis so the more you can get within certain limits the better, then there is the problem of status, you need status to both get applicants, important, and also to pick up those funded research jobs, once again very important because you need the monet. Staus comes in part from the number of passes and the quality of those passes, so not just any student will do, you need ones with some competance and committment to success.

University admissions people look thus for both the basic academic ability and the committment, and balance the two, clearly those who simply go through the paper system are only scored on what is on the paper and will have to have higher qualifications, those who go for interviews and make personal contact and mature applicants tend to show greater committment and thus normaly get in with lower paper qualifications. In general an applicant that has gat good enough qualifications for entry from a sink estate comprehensive will score better than some one with the same 'paper' quals but from a public school because they will have neede far more committment to get that far.

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