62% Britons oppose idea of universities giving state school students lower entry requirements
Almost two thirds of the British public opposes the idea of universities giving students from underperforming schools lower entry requirements than applicants from higher performing private schools, our poll shows, while a similar majority believe that when it comes to selecting applicants, universities should not have to take into account the social background of students and the type of school they attended.
- 63% think universities should not have to take into account the social background of applicants and the type of school they attended when deciding whether to offer them a place, 28% think universities should have to take these factors into account
- 62% say universities should admit students purely on their academic ability
- Whereas 30% say universities should have a role to play in improving social mobility by making efforts to get more students from poorer backgrounds into university
- 62% oppose universities giving applicants from underperforming state schools lower entry requirements than applicants from higher performing private schools
- Compared to who 23% would support universities changing entry requirements for specific students
'Instrument of social segregation'?
These results come in light of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s attack earlier this month on British universities as ‘instruments of social segregation’. The Deputy Prime Minister claims that universities should stop taking so many middle-class students, and instead offer more opportunities for the less well off by lowering entrance requirements for specific applicants. This proposal has prompted fears that bright pupils from good schools or middle-class homes could lose out on sought-after places, while the call for ‘differential offers’ has been scrutinized by universities who claim lower achievement should be put down to poor schooling and failed education policies.
The Guardian reported a source close to Nick Clegg as saying that universities are 'closed…to students from disadvantaged backgrounds', but Tim Hands, of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' conference has warned that 'universities need to be cautious in their use of contextual data [information about a candidate's background]. We have got very little assurance that such information is accurate, and it is essential to pay attention to the individual, not to any type.'