OUSU to decide admissions policy

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A vote on whether to approve the OUSU admissions policy will be held at the council meeting on Friday.The admissions policy document was drawn up last term by OUSU Access and Admissions Officer James Lamming, in coordination with JCRs. There have been debates on the policy in JCRs across the University, and representatives from affiliated colleges will vote on it at the OUSU council on Friday.Among other things the new admissions policy recommends that applicants to Oxford are selected on the basis of their academic potential, but that their school’s overall results (“educational context”) should be taken into account when evaluating their A-level grades. It also recommends that tutors minimise the use of subject tests and stop using submitted essays in the admissions process, since these measures are likely to be perceived as an “additional hurdle to applying to Oxford.”The policy document will be discussed and possibly amended at the Council on Friday, before becoming official OUSU policy. Once this happens, James Lamming will use it as the basis for his discussions with collegiate admissions committees. He said, “It can be a very strong argument to say, this is perceived as being unfair by students who’ve been there and done it, so you need to take it into account.”Several colleges have already debated the policy in the last week, including Merton and Magdalen.
Merton Affiliated Organisations rep Josh Monahan said, “There is no doubt that the university needs to take into account the views of undergraduates when deciding undergraduate admissions policy.”Diana Walford, Warden of Mansfield College and Chairman of the Admissions Executive and Admissions Committee, said, “We work very closely with the student body on access issues […] The collegiate University and OUSU are in agreement over the aims of widening participation to attract the best students irrespective of their background.”Not all students’ views will be represented by the final document, however, but only those whose college is affiliated to OUSU. James Lamming noted, “Disaffiliated colleges are welcome to discuss amendments, but they don’t have a vote. I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t listen to their views. So the policy will reflect the views only of affiliated colleges, but I will be minded of the views of all students.”Sometimes, though, the admissions policy goes out the window. One Magdalen student said, “I’m sure the only reason I got in was because my tutor fancied me.”by Jack Farchy 

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