Universities Minister calls for students to be admitted on potential rather than grades
Universities Minister David Willetts called last week for students to be admitted to universities based on their potential rather than the grades they achieved at A-Level.
The call came after reports showed that most of the Russell group universities, the group of leading universities to which Durham belongs, let in fewer students from state schools and deprived backgrounds in the 2010/11 cycle.
Mr Willets said that admissions “can be based on more than just A-Level results” and said that universities should look at other factors that indicate potential.
A study last year showed that 23% of universities planned to give lower grade offers to students from poorer backgrounds, indicating the attempts being made at making the system more meritocratic.
Many of the top universities admitted more than 40% of their pupils from the private sector despite the fact that only around 7% of children in the United Kingdom are privately educated. Much of the reason for their success in university admission is the better quality teaching and smaller classes that fee paying schools offer.
Kings College London was also praised by Mr Willets as they offer students wishing to study medicine, one of the subjects that are largely dominated by the private sector, the chance to take a foundation year if their A-Level grades are poor.
Mr Willets said that “we know, at the end of the day, that their chances of getting a good medical degree are as good as those who turn up with three As.” Additionally he highlighted the good of schemes run by top universities where academics mentor state school students through their A-Levels and help them with their journey to university.
The government also announced that they would spend £900 million on reforms designed to improve access to university. This is up £100 million in just three years demonstrating that measures are being taken to make educational opportunities more equal.
Some however have reacted angrily to Mr Willet’s calls, with one claiming that private school students with good grades should not be discriminated just to allow more state school students to the top universities and that the process should be completely blind.