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25% of Oxford places to go to poor students - who loses out?

(576 Posts)
IrmaFayLear Tue 21-May-19 12:49:56

From the BBC website:

If 25% of places are to be targeted at applicants from poorer areas - and in recent years, about 40% of places have gone to pupils from private schools - then that leaves 35% for everyone else.

Even the BBC muses that the losers will be ordinary pupils from ordinary backgrounds - not rich enough for private school but living in nice enough areas.

Of course merit should not be overlooked in favour of gloss when admitting students, but I think this is increasingly less the case anyway. But admitting a large specific quota of students to one of the top universities in the world strikes me as nonsensical and unfair.

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Needmoresleep Tue 21-May-19 13:00:42

I assume not high paying international students, whose numbers, I understand, are growing.

2rebecca Tue 21-May-19 13:04:49

If Oxford stops admitting students on merit then it will stop being seen as an elite university. I think it should ensure bright but poor students aren't disadvantaged but it shouldn't be discriminating against bright students in the "wrong" postcodes.

TheFirstOHN Tue 21-May-19 13:08:07

If 25% of places are to be targeted at applicants from poorer areas - and in recent years, about 40% of places have gone to pupils from private schools - then that leaves 35% for everyone else.

I think this is flawed logic. The proportion of offers given to applicants from independent schools is not fixed, and is gradually decreasing at both universities.

Applicants from independent schools would be as much affected as applicants from state schools who don't live in postcodes being targeted for increased outreach.

BubblesBuddy Tue 21-May-19 13:09:47

Well they might cut the private school intake to 25%. Who said the 40% wouldn’t be touched?

Having said all of that: poor areas is a very woolly definition. There are areas of deprivation but where schools nearby are excellent and might be Grammar schools. So are they going to look at individual schools and give priority to certain schools where they never normally get an applicant, never mind a successful one? Or are they going to use huge areas where there are gems of schools where going to Oxford is a distinct possibility and isn’t unusual at all? How are these students to be filtered and chosen?

I think it will be the borderline students who are shuffled down because they don’t meet the “poorer area” category. It might be a MC applicant from any school but one would assume reducing private schools birdlime successful candidates would be the obvious. Hence the Head of Stowe having a pop!

Also 25% isn’t starting from 0%. Not sure what percentage they are starting from but any move to poverty as opposed to talent will cause fur to fly!

BubblesBuddy Tue 21-May-19 13:11:01

Birdlime??? Borderline.

TheFirstOHN Tue 21-May-19 13:12:30

Needmoresleep

"But it is worth noting that all these figures are about the proportion of UK undergraduates - and they do not include the increase in overseas applicants getting places."

TheFirstOHN Tue 21-May-19 13:13:00

Also 25% isn’t starting from 0%. Not sure what percentage they are starting from

Approximately 15%

2rebecca Tue 21-May-19 13:13:07

Both Oxford and Cambridge seem to be going in to self destruct mode at the moment, both seem more interested in wokeness than free speech, Cambridge is naval gazing its distant past for slavery crimes committed by long dead donors.
In the past there was too much nepotism and private school bias but to stay an elite university you have to admit the brightest students and educate them to think broadly, not support no platforming and be intolerant of free speech.
I was state educated and went to a modern university college but I find all this social engineering creepy.

Benes Tue 21-May-19 13:18:26

If 25% of places are to be targeted at applicants from poorer areas - and in recent years, about 40% of places have gone to pupils from private schools - then that leaves 35% for everyone else

That doesn't make sense. The 40% isn't a quota.......

Bright young people from poor backgrounds are still going to be the ones missing out overall as they are still massively underrepresented at elite universities.

maryso Tue 21-May-19 13:20:12

Not sure where this obsession with postcodes is coming from. The only schemes being launched are firstly a foundation year based on individual circumstances, egs being refugees, children in care and child carers. The other is about near misses from poorer backgrounds who will be supported. Can't see any free passes in either. The foundation year is a well tested and proven approach to level uneven playing fields. If you can't take the heat, don't play.

Benes Tue 21-May-19 13:21:33

If Oxford stops admitting students on merit then it will stop being seen as an elite university. I think it should ensure bright but poor students aren't disadvantaged but it shouldn't be discriminating against bright students in the "wrong" postcodes

These student will still have to achieve the entry requirements....don't worry they aren't about lose their elite status anytime soon!
They will just be making more use of contextual data to ensure the brightest young people don't miss out because of where they are born or the school attended.

Benes Tue 21-May-19 13:24:24

Having said all of that: poor areas is a very woolly definition. There are areas of deprivation but where schools nearby are excellent and might be Grammar schools. So are they going to look at individual schools and give priority to certain schools where they never normally get an applicant, never mind a successful one? Or are they going to use huge areas where there are gems of schools where going to Oxford is a distinct possibility and isn’t unusual at all? How are these students to be filtered and chosen?

The universities themselves aren't using such a 'woolly' definition....and this isn't anything new! The use of contextual data has been common for years. They use POLAR data, IMD, FSM, school attended etc.

Needmoresleep Tue 21-May-19 13:24:59

There has been a slow erosion of the number of places offered to pupils from private schools. Partly perhaps because of a small increase in the proportion from state schools, but also because of strong competition from able applicants from overseas, particularly in popular subjects like science and engineering, economics and law.

However the fact that advantage in education might lead to a slight disadvantage in Oxbridge entry for marginal students is not necessarily an issue. Some can afford to look elsewhere, say to (expensive) London or even the US, where a broader-based Public School education fits well the the application process.

The "losers" might be bright students from ordinary, rather than poor, backgrounds. And perhaps Oxbridge itself. They should benefit from recruiting super-bright international students, but will they be losing out on very strong UK applicants simply because they have the "wrong" backgrounds. Or will the students they recruit in their place have more potential, and is University the right place to address educational deficits.

London has its own problems. Because of cost and the urban environment they struggle to recruit, say, less well off kids from the north. But they do seem to do well with long-term outreach programmes in poorer London schools, and initiatives like the the Kings Maths School. A high proportion of DS' British friends at LSE were from London state schools.

SarahAndQuack Tue 21-May-19 13:57:19

YY, agree, the 40% isn't a quota and I would imagine they'd want to see that number go down.

I would also assume that, when they say 'targeted at,' they mean 'aimed for' rather than 'OMG if we don't get 25% of decent candidates in this group we'll open the floodgates and let in any idiots'.

It's very difficult to get a perfect way to level the playing field, but they're obviously trying. Plus, it is perfectly possible and normal to include in your application details of why you were disadvantaged and deserve special consideration, aside from the university's own metrics.

goodbyestranger Tue 21-May-19 14:50:06

I posted the article at breakfast time over on Oxbridge 2020 but it no doubt should have a thread of its own.

IrmaFayLear Tue 21-May-19 15:26:18

Sorry! I did look at the thread titles before posting, but didn't read the Oxbridge 2020.

The irony of the situation is then you get demands for job applications to conceal where an applicant went, or complaints that the civil service/judiciary etc is composed of too many Oxbridge graduates. So the underprivileged achieves an Oxbridge place, only to find that upon graduation they are now overprivileged. It's a funny sort of logic; a sort of whack a mole immediately anyone moves on up.

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LordProfFekkoThePenguinPhD Tue 21-May-19 15:31:41

Immigrants who have worked their arses off to scrape the money together to get their kids into private school.

Needmoresleep Tue 21-May-19 15:35:48

Or indeed the super bright kid who gets a 100% bursary to an independent school.

goodbyestranger Tue 21-May-19 15:42:21

No offence taken Irma! It was probably a bit (unintentionally) mean of me to post it there anyhow! As I said on that thread, my neighbour (well, she has a holiday house at the end of my garden and a much bigger house elsewhere) caught me passing her gate with the dogs on Saturday and said she was freaking out a bit (a lot) at the difficulties she thinks her eldest DC (Y12, a Cambridge 2020 applicant, very top independent) now faces.

Benes Tue 21-May-19 15:52:12

she was freaking out a bit (a lot) at the difficulties she thinks her eldest DC (Y12, a Cambridge 2020 applicant, very top independent) now faces

What about the difficulties very bright kids who haven't had the opportunity to attend a top independent school face??!

Not having a go at you goodbyestranger but i'm pretty sure if her DC are Cambridge material they'll be absolutely fine.

Bobbybobbins Tue 21-May-19 16:07:57

I think the foundation year for the categories of students described above (eg children in care, from very poor schools etc) is a much better idea than lowering entry requirements for a bachelors degree. That way, the uni can truly see if they have the potential.

I understand that currently contextual offers will look at both postcode and school attended? One of my year 13 form group has a slightly lowered offer from Leeds due to hone circumstances but as we are a high achieving comp that did not 'count' iyswim. Bless him, he cleans the school every day to earn extra money for uni so he can afford to go.

goodbyestranger Tue 21-May-19 17:37:57

Benes I was short on sympathy I can assure you smile

BogglesGoggles Tue 21-May-19 17:40:09

@needmoresleep it’s teally hard to get a place anywhere as an international student because they have a quota they aren’t allowed to exceed.

Needmoresleep Tue 21-May-19 17:55:37

No need to @ me!

My understanding is that the proportion of international students at Oxbridge is growing. I am NOT saying that is a bad thing. Numbers of international applicants are growing in the US and almost certainly in other education "markets": Canada, Australia, Ireland.

There are more people in places like Russia, China and the Gulf able to afford overseas education, and a greater number of overseas students who will have been educated in either UK boarding schools or in international schools (that huge expansion into Asia and the middle east by brand names such as Harrow, Dulwich and Westminster.)

Many of these students will be focusing on Maths, Science, Engineering, Law, Economics and Medicine. Even by the law of averages a proportion of them will be talented enough to displace British applicants. This is not necessarily a bad thing if Oxford and Cambridge want to retain their world rankings. LSE's student body, for example only has about 25% British students, and no one suggests this is a negative.

I am not sure that the odds are stacked against international students. Its really hard to get an Oxbridge place...end of. Or a place at Imperial, LSE etc - just look at recent Durham threads.

There will be different patterns, and the question of who gets "squeezed out" may depend on what subjects target students will be aiming for, and this in turn may depend on cultural attitudes in the communities they come from. If humanities, there will be a higher percentage of UK students applying, from all sorts of schools and backgrounds. If sciences, the impact might be on international students as well.

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