Sometimes the timing just works out. My piece on the folly of Professor Les Ebdon, the government’s “access czar” for higher education, was written on the 7th, and posted early on the 9th. And on opening my Sunday Telegraph, I was delighted to find that my alma mater, Cambridge University, has taken up the cudgels on the same issue, and in very robust terms.
I had stressed the point that admitting students with lower achievement and lower grades was to disadvantage not only higher-grade students who would inevitably be passed over, but also the lower-score students admitted as well. They would face a highly competitive and challenging academic environment where they would probably experience difficulties in keeping up. Cambridge University makes much the same point.
Retiring admissions director Dr. Geoff Parks pulls no punches. He’s reported as saying that a move to admit less qualified students on socio-economic grounds would be “a cruel experiment which could ruin lives”. Just so. It would also be a wholly unjustified intrusion by government into an area which should clearly be the prerogative of the universities concerned.
For anyone doubtful about the core proposition, consider an analogy. We’ve just had a hugely successful Olympic Games. Athletes were chosen strictly on their performance in their events. Does anyone imagine that Team GB would have done better if the selectors had lowered the bar and concentrated on selecting according to socio-economic criteria, to ensure “fairness”? No? Point made.