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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.

Copthallresident Thu 21-Feb-13 17:25:58

I have a friend, one of 6, at bog standard comp, who walked into her Oxford interview in the 80s, the tutor asked if she wanted to go, she said Yes. and he said "You are in if you get two Es"!!

My tutor said he read my school reference and decided to be perverse and invite me for interview because to have got up the nose of my bunch of blue stocking teachers to the extent I clearly has I must be interesting. I got a 2.1 so his instinct was right.

This is where the point I made earlier comes in. In a situation where competition is as intense as it was up until the fees hike then universities simply do not have the leeway to relax entry requirements for students they have reason (school reference, gut feel, impressive personal statement etc.) to believe would do well. Even where there is overwhelming contextual evidence of disadvantage the leeway is very small. They have a student quota and many more highly qualified candidates than places.

Last summer things changed and more flexibility has crept into the process. For all the wrong reasons but perhaps this is one good side effect.

Yellowtip Thu 21-Feb-13 17:28:09

No it wasn't grade inflation ron. My elder sister was at Durham starting in '74 and those were the requirements then too.

Tasmania Thu 21-Feb-13 17:30:43


Don't want to reveal too much - but it was more than a decade ago. If there were mitigating circumstances, I'd be surprised (let's leave it at that). And as said, I think there were a lot of strings being pulled.

gazzalw Thu 21-Feb-13 17:34:06

FIL always reckoned in the post-War years you could get into Oxford or Cambridge on beauty, brains, brawn or breeding....grin

piggywigwig Thu 21-Feb-13 17:37:05

I went to an RG uni and they were quite difficult to get into even then - certainly 1 or 2 A grades at A level were expected BUT less people overall applied so competition wasn't so crazy and generally A level grades of applicants were lower (no A* grade even existed).

I went to a RG uni in the 1980's from a state GS and was given an offer of two "E's for a hugely competitive course. I must have been a very good girl in a former life wink

maisiejoe123 Thu 21-Feb-13 18:26:59

Having attended a recent presentation at DS's school. In the 70's 5% went to univ. Now its 50% so there is lots of competition. Its doesnt necessarily mean that the RG universities are more difficult as a lot of the old poly's are now uni's!

But I do think you need the A's. The days of saying - get two E's and your in are long gone for a RG university

cory Thu 21-Feb-13 19:55:32

We certainly take plenty of state educated students. What won't happen, though, is a situation like that of dh- private school, failed his A-levels and was still taken on by UCL (and went on to get a 2:1).

Yellowtip Thu 21-Feb-13 20:12:26

maisie EE was only offered after interview and usually only after an entrance test too. Which distinguished it from modern offers (though I do know of an exceptional recent EE offer from Cambridge, where the college clearly just wanted the student in question).

Tasmania if no mitigating circumstances and no exceptional other time consuming talent, how did the DDD student fare? (you're going to tell me a high 2.1 or a First!).

Tasmania Thu 21-Feb-13 20:20:12


Don't know - the student was a year below me, so already left by that time that person graduated. Seriously had no other time-consuming talent I can think of. Very average, if not very entitled at times. I can reveal it may have looked like a similar scenario to cory's DH at UCL.

I got what I would think of as a fairly easy offer (i.e. there was no way I wouldn't have gotten those grades). But I do think I wrote a killer personal statement grin - with no help from anyone, may I add. P.S.: I only know that now, after people showed me what they wrote!

BoringSchoolChoiceNickname Thu 21-Feb-13 20:56:50

I got a EE offer from (what is now) an RG university without an interview back in the bad old days, but I did have some quite hmm exam results and predictions at an unusually young age (although by modern standards they'd be pretty run of the mill).

Eastpoint Fri 22-Feb-13 08:11:44

As far as I'm aware no Oxford colleges specify A*s, I know Cambridge colleges do, usually in the subject you intend to study. Of course some successful applicants will have multiple A*s.

I have my old school magazines from the 70s & 80s and the number of o levels used to be recorded. Assuming the pupils of a London fee-paying (ex-direct grant) school have not changed the grades have changed enormously. A friend of mine got a 2 E offer from UCL to read history. I was offered CCC by Exeter for something similar.

wordfactory Fri 22-Feb-13 08:45:42

OP, for the more competitive courses the requirements tend to be AAA or AAB for RG universities.

And there was a recent report saying many state schools and sixth form colleges failed to produce students with those grades, ergo, no one could go to RG universities.

Can anyone else remember the report? It was quite recent, I think?

wordfactory Fri 22-Feb-13 08:55:58

Ishould say though, that I don't believe the issue is really one of state or private sector.

The issue is one of not being middle class. The middle classes dominate the RG universities. DC from working class backgrounds, even those on income levels comparable to middle class families, fare worse in education generally.

Ronaldo Fri 22-Feb-13 09:57:31

well I am sure you will all be pleased to know that in the news today, it seems RG universities asre admitting to lowering grades ( to B and C) for DC from state schools in recognition of the fact they cannot make the AAB marker.

crazynanna Fri 22-Feb-13 10:12:10

My DD (age 27) messed about at school, and was a constant frustration for her teachers and myself, as we knew she would have done well in her exams (she is definitly the brightest of my dcs academically)

Fast forward 2 years ago, and she decided she wanted to go back to education.
She did one of those Access courses (as had no GCSEs or A levels), and got 2 offers, one being in the list of RG universities, but she chose one of the others as it did the precise course she wanted. Her tutor at college where she did the AC was livid with her for not choosing the RG one, but it did not phase her. She wasn't bothered about the RG rep.

crazynanna Fri 22-Feb-13 10:12:35

Sorry...not 2 offers, it was 3 offers.

Yellowtip Fri 22-Feb-13 10:13:07

Eastpoint Oxford colleges most certainly do!

Yellowtip Fri 22-Feb-13 10:15:29

And Eastpoint the pupil profile of the old direct grant schools will have changed significantly (I was also a direct grant pupil at a London school).

wordfactory Fri 22-Feb-13 10:25:22

This is the link for anyone who is interested about some schools not producing the AAB candidates.

tiredaftertwo Fri 22-Feb-13 10:27:22

Wordfactory, I think you are thinking of the report after the secondary school league tables were published.

The BBC and others ran a story saying there were lots of state schools where no-one was getting good grades in three facilitating subjects. They went on to say this meant no-one would qualify for RG universities.

The reports were wrong. The RG Informed Choices guide makes clear that facilitating subjects are a way of keeping your options open. It does not say you need three of them but recommends two.

Why they included three as a measure in the league tables is beyond me. Westminster scored under 50% (if memory serves - but you get the point - it is not a measure of university admissions success and the journalists who could not be bothered to read the Informed Choices guide, preferring to jump on a state school bashing bandwagon instead, should be ashamed).

wordfactory Fri 22-Feb-13 10:32:52

That's interesting tired.

To be fair, I had assumed that those colleges which didn't produce the RG candidates would be more technical places where no one wants to go down that route anyway IYSWIM.

wordfactory Fri 22-Feb-13 10:33:51

ronaldo do you have a link? I've tapped in A levels/news/RG etc and can't find a thing.

wordfactory Fri 22-Feb-13 10:38:37

I found this

But it seems to be saying that the offers are the same, just that the private school pupils often have grades higher than the offer.

Or have I gone bonkers?

Coconutty Fri 22-Feb-13 10:44:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Coconutty Fri 22-Feb-13 10:45:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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