Universities Can Lower Standards for Poor Students

Daily Mail (London), April 6, 2004 | Go to article overview
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Universities Can Lower Standards for Poor Students


Byline: LAURA CLARK

UNIVERSITIES will be told today that they can lower A-level requirements for 'disadvantaged' students.

The move is one of a number of changes proposed by a Government-backed taskforce designed to create a more 'diverse' social mix of pupils.

Under the plans, students from state schools or those whose parents have divorced will be given special consideration.

The measures - outlined in a draft report released today - will help 'uncover hidden talent', said taskforce leader Professor Steven Schwartz.

But critics have condemned the reforms as 'social engineering' which will hamper middleclass students.

The Government expects all universities to adopt the new admissions policies.

The report says universities will be allowed to look beyond Alevel results and decide if applicants were let down by poor schooling when making their offers of places.

However, they must be considered on an individual basis and not in context of a school's average performance.

Admissions tutors will be able to give special consideration to pupils who faced personal problems such as divorce or bereavement during their school lives.

Application forms will be redrafted to allow candidates to give this information and spell out any other 'challenges' they have overcome.

Tutors may also show preference to students from state schools, provided this is not done automatically.

'Equal examination grades do not necessarily represent equal potential,' the report says. 'Many applicants have responsibilities at home or at work, or interrupted schooling, that can affect their educational achievement.

'Recent research shows that, all other things being equal, students from state schools and colleges tend to perform better at undergraduate level than students from independent schools and colleges.' Professor Schwartz backed a national IQ-style test for univertsity applicants akin to Scholastic Aptitude Tests used in America.

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