Azara Blog: Another silly political attack on Oxbridge

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Date published: 2007/10/15

The BBC says:

Oxbridge should work harder to recruit state school pupils, a think tank says.

The Institute for Public Policy Research says the two universities should be more "proactive" in reaching youngsters with suitable grades.

Oxford and Cambridge have both reached agreement with the access regulator to increase their shares of students from a wider range of backgrounds.

They say they do make great efforts to encourage interest, but cannot take those who do not submit applications.

The institute's co-director Lisa Harker said: "Students getting three A grade A-levels at state schools are significantly under represented at both universities.

"Oxford and Cambridge must stop blaming a lack of applications for their failure to make progress.

"It does not matter how many bursaries they offer or how many students visit their campuses if students from non-traditional backgrounds are not applying."
A spokeswoman for Cambridge University said it was committed to taking the brightest and the best students irrespective of their backgrounds.

But she said the IPPR report did not take into account the nature of A-levels. Not all are regarded as equal and some are not deemed suitable by the university as qualifications for undergraduate entry.

The IPPR is one of the zillions of useless consultancies which plague the nation. The fact that they have not distinguished between the difficulty of different types of A-levels already tells you they are just spouting political propaganda rather than making a serious analysis. And even ignoring that point, it's getting more and more difficult to use A-level grades to determine the best students since there has been so much grade inflation that pretty much every applicant gets top marks. If the nation stopped wasting money on organisations like the IPPR and instead put the money into improving teaching at State schools, we would all be a lot better off. Perhaps as a first step, the IPPR could stop producing these useless reports and instead spend time going to schools to encourage students from "non-traditional backgrounds" to apply to Oxbridge.

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