Cambridge University makes national news by rejecting calls to adjust entrance requirements for students from poorer backgrounds.
The University has sparked national debate by condemning the idea of adjusting offers for students from poorer backgrounds.
The outgoing admissions director, Dr Geoff Parks, has claimed that lowering entrance requirements would be a “cruel experiment”and doubted whether students who could not make the grades would cope with the academic demands of the University.
This reaction follows continued pressure by Offa, the University admissions regulator, for the university to broaden its social horizons. Their new head, Professor Les Ebdon, has challenged Universities to admit more students from working class backgrounds, claiming that “Context has to be taken in to account if you are going to access potential.”
He also added that universities who fail to adjust could be forbidden from charging £9,000 fees, or face fines.
There has been some support for adjusted offers; David Willetts, the universities minister, stated earlier this year that “admissions can be based on more than just A-Level results.”
Some major universities already consider ‘contextual data’ when making offers to students. Bristol, Newcastle, Nottingham and Glasgow already allow some adjusted offers and the University of Edinburgh uses a points system which takes social background into account.
However, Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor of Reading University, has criticised the idea by claiming that lower offers could be seen as“patronising”.
Dr Parks, after 10 years in his position, told the Sunday Telegraph: “Our research indicates that our current offer levels are about right for our courses. None of us in good conscience want to be ruining people’s lives on some gut feel or political imperative based around getting votes or pandering to some particular bit of the populace.”
Do you agree with Dr Parks? Vote in our poll below on whether offers should be adjusted to cater for social difference.