Oxbridge colleges named and shamed for failing to admit poorer students

Dec 13, 2015 by

Oxford would need to increase intake by 25% to meet own benchmark, says report

Fifteen years ago, Gordon Brown turned a pupil at a comprehensive school in the north-east into a national cause célèbre in a fierce attack on selection procedures at Oxford University. Laura Spence, the then chancellor pointed out, had the “best A-level qualifications you can have” but had been turned down by Magdalen College, Oxford. Her rejection came at the hands of “an interview system more reminiscent of an old-boy network than genuine justice for society”.

Spence, who went on to earn five A grade A-Levels, subsequently accepted a £35,750 scholarship from Harvard to study biochemistry and graduated from the Ivy League university in 2004.

She didn’t look back. Oxford and Cambridge, however, were thrown into disarray. The past decade and a half has seen those universities launch a ferocious public relations exercise to rescue their reputations. Oxford’s vice chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton, spoke a few years ago of his institution being “passionately committed to attracting talented students whatever their circumstances”. He said: “By offering the most generous financial support in the country, we have made it more likely that those from under-represented socio-economic backgrounds will choose Oxford.”

Cambridge, while resisting the idea of lower admissions criteria for poorer pupils, trumpets its £4m a year spending on “outreach” work to identify talented pupils from deprived backgrounds.

Source: Oxbridge colleges named and shamed for failing to admit poorer students | Education | The Guardian

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