'Z-LEVELS' WON'T GET YOU INTO TOP UNIS; Secret List of Banned Subjects

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Byline: SUSIE BONIFACE

TOP universities are using a secret list of "banned" A-level subjects to bar state school students.

Even youngsters with high marks in subjects like drama, media studies and design are getting turned down by elite establishments like Oxford and Cambridge, teachers say.

They claim that because preferred subjects like ancient history and philosophy are more likely to be taught in public schools, comprehensive pupils are being put at a disadvantage. The row comes during the worst-ever scramble for university places.

An estimated 180,000 students are expected to miss out on a place amid funding cutbacks. John Bangs of the National Union of Teachers said he suspected there was a single list of banned subjects used by the top universities - but they will not admit it.

He said: "The list is built on the assumption that these 'banned' subjects are easier than others and not academic enough.

"This is just using a filter to stop people they don't want from getting into their universities. They have no concern about fairness.

If they have this list, let them publish it and show evidence that these subjects are easier."

The London School of Economics is the only institution to publish a list of banned A-levels - known as "Z-levels". Its website says pupils with those qualifications may only be considered in some departments - and in the right combination with other subjects.

Wendy Piatt of the Russell Group - which represents the top 20 universities - said: "Most provide very clear and comprehensive information on required A-level subjects and which ones will not be considered when making admissions decisions. …