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RG unis - are they really THAT difficult to get in?

(168 Posts)
Tasmania Thu 21-Feb-13 13:13:36

The more I read MN, the more my eyes seem to be opened up to a world I don't recognize. I guess it's true that we don't actually live in one world, but rather in smaller worlds that co-exist on one planet.

I have read, for example, that some state schools never manage to send any child to a RG uni, and a lot of people who are very supportive about state schools get very, very upset by that.

As someone who went to a RG uni, whose DH, SILs, friends (and their DHs) and even colleagues also went to such unis... are they really THAT difficult to get in? Some of those listed went to state schools. It didn't look as though they saw these unis as "out of reach".

Sometimes, I do wonder whether it is actually the nation's obsession of getting as many kids as possible into uni that makes the world seem so much more unfair. Because you have to admit that not many people went to uni in previous generations, and it is virtually impossible for everyone to attend Oxbridge (maybe in future, people can attend lectures online, etc.). So some people will HAVE to be left out. Is that really so bad?

We don't live in a communist state... but even the old Soviet Union had universities that were out of bounds for many.

ISingSoprano Thu 21-Feb-13 13:27:39

I think it depends on the course rather than the university. Some courses are VERY competitive, others less so. My children are state educated but have always been encouraged to aim high, Oxbridge and RG universities are entirely within reach.

tiggytape Thu 21-Feb-13 13:41:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tasmania Thu 21-Feb-13 13:55:58


I think we may have lived in a similar era!

Has anyone figured out yet where this grade inflation comes from? Are exams really easier or are kids just being prepared better?!? Because I highly doubt the new generation is twice as intelligent...

MirandaWest Thu 21-Feb-13 13:57:17

I went to a 1994 university (is now a RG one). I didn't need any As to get in (was nearly 20 years ago though).

lemonmajestic Thu 21-Feb-13 14:12:10

I went to an RG university in the 1980s and there were loads of students on my course who went to state schools and had obtained 3 As at A level. It was quite a large course approx 100 students per year group and the offer given was in the range of BBB or BBC. I exceeded this (but did not get 3 As). I even know of a few students on less popular courses who had obtained places through Clearing which would be unheard of now!

Re Grade inflation. There are several factors to take into account:
1. All students who obtain a mark of say 75% (some papers not marked out of 100) will obtain a grade A. In the old days only the top 10% of students obtained an A regardless of the marks obtained.
2. A levels have been separated into AS and A2 levels and most students take 4 subjects for AS and 3 subjects for A2. This allows some students to drop their "weakest" subject after AS and just do their 3 "best" subjects so this will weed out some students and raise achievement at A2.
3. A level resits used to be very rare. Now many students will resit some modules to increase their marks.

lyndie Thu 21-Feb-13 14:14:02

St Andrews isn't RG and it has world class status in some departments. Very competitive to get into! I also went to Manchester which is RG, I didn't rate it any differently because it was RG.

titchy Thu 21-Feb-13 14:15:33

Don't forget the RG and 1994 group have only existed for 19 years. Before that there wasn't really an awareness of institutional quality, other than university was perceived as better than polytechnic.

And yes clearly exams are easier - at least it is easier to get an A than it was 20 years ago. The ABC I got back in the day would probably equate to A*, A, B these days.

Don't forget intelligence does not peceptably increase in just one generation.

Tasmania Thu 21-Feb-13 14:16:43


Do you know who made the above changes to the exam? Why was point 1 in particular changed?

Doing it the old way would have resulted in a 'normal distribution' of grades. The new way would skew this up a lot...

BoringSchoolChoiceNickname Thu 21-Feb-13 14:41:09

Intelligence (as measured by IQ test performance) will have increased measurably between today's 37 year olds and today's 17 year olds, they have to recalibration the tests regularly so that 100 remains the average. But the effect isn't enough to explain the grade improvements in full.

Yellowtip Thu 21-Feb-13 14:46:03

Grade inflation hasn't markedly affected the intake in the most competitive departments in the most competitive universities. Outreach has affected the intake rather more, but differently.

lemonmajestic Thu 21-Feb-13 14:49:28

I would suggest that you look at the following links about A levels Development of A levels
and Research on Grade Inflation.

Point 1 was changed because it meant that students in high achieving years had to obtain higher marks to get a grade A than students in a low achieving year. It was supposed to mean that a grade A student was at the same (high) standard every year.

There were significant changes to A levels in 2000 when the Labour Government wanted to increase the number of students who were qualified to go to university. These measures are generally believed to have led to "grade inflation". However there is some debate as to whether or not grade inflation is real and many or the newspaper articles on the subject may well have a political bias.

Scrazy Thu 21-Feb-13 14:50:26

Offers are often lowered for students from lower performing state schools and then again on results day if grades are missed. That was the case last year, when numbers of applicants were down.

Yellowtip Thu 21-Feb-13 14:58:15

tiggy that's just not true about 4A* at A level being the de facto requirement for any course at any university, sorry.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Thu 21-Feb-13 15:04:34

I don't even know what an "RG uni" is? confused7

Did I go to one? Nottingham. I went to a State school.

Or is it just Oxbridge (we had seven in our year go)

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Thu 21-Feb-13 15:04:46

Sorry about random 7.

tiggytape Thu 21-Feb-13 15:07:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

singaporeswing Thu 21-Feb-13 15:07:15

I went to a RG uni and graduated in 2011, studying a language with Business. My course requirements were BBC and I got BBB.

tiggytape Thu 21-Feb-13 15:08:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JugglingFromHereToThere Thu 21-Feb-13 15:08:45

I got into Bristol in 1983 with a B and 2 C's - just what I needed

There's been a lot of grade inflation since then so I hear !

Hope the DC's will be able to enjoy a course at a similar Uni. Perhaps even a better one as I think they're brighter than me ...

As long as they can do something they enjoy, and that will hopefully be helpful to them on their life journey smile

Reality Thu 21-Feb-13 15:09:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Thu 21-Feb-13 15:10:56


gazzalw Thu 21-Feb-13 15:11:51

I think in the 1980s (and I daresay earlier but not quite that old!) it was possible to get into some RG Unis with B/C/C or B/B/C or if you were lucky even B/C/D. Of course a lot did get As but by no means were those sort of grades exclusive!

weegiemum Thu 21-Feb-13 15:12:31

I went to a comp and got into a RG uni (Edinburgh) with Highers at AAABCC. I was one of about 40 in my year who got in to RG unis.

However I know that I'd now need AAAAA to get in (Highers come somewhere about A2 level).

More people going to uni, so they can be more picky!

BackforGood Thu 21-Feb-13 15:12:35

Am I missing something here?
Presumably, if Russell Group Universities are perceived as being the best Universities, then, they will automatically take the top 10% (or 15% or 20% or whatever % they cover out of all universities), so therefore, of course they are more difficult to get in to for your average Joe Student, as your average, isn't going to be in the top 10% / 20% however many it is ? Isn't that kind of stating the obvious ? Or am I missing something here.confused

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