New research has suggested that Oxford’s admissions
policies is biased towards public school pupils. The findings of a report from the Higher Education Funding
Council for England showed that of students applying to the
country’s top thirteen universities with 28 A level points
(corresponding to two A grades and a B), 60% of pupils from
fee-paying schools were accepted by top universities in the
country compared with just 40% of state school pupils with the
same grades. Critics of the current admissions process assert that this
reflects the fact that state school pupils are discouraged from
applying, or are underestimated by teachers when awarded
predicted grades (the current basis for awarding university
offers). They also argue that the existing emphasis on interviews
favours pupils from fee-paying schools, who are well practised
and articulate. A spokeswoman for the University disputed thse claims. She
said, “We have a very active programme to widen access which
is backed up by a rigorous admissions procedure which ensures
that students are admitted solely on the basis of academic
ability and potential, irrespective of their social or
educational background.”ARCHIVE: 3rd week TT 2004