Archive for the ‘UK Elite Universities’ Category

UK Elite Universities

jeudi, juillet 14th, 2011

Further to the previous article on social mobility and the Sutton Trust Higher Education Report (see Categories/Chairmans Blog/Social Mobility/Higher Education Report in the right-hand index column), 40% of the 56,000 students who have gained A-level grades of AAB or higher are concentrated in only nine universities in England: Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, London School of Economics, Bristol, Exeter, Warwick, Imperial College London and University College London. These nine universities also have more than 60% of their students admitted with grades AAB, according to the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
Now a government white paper released last month will allow all universities (currently with their total numbers of students limited by the state) to attract as many students as they can with A-level grades of at least AAB. A competing market for such top grade students will result with e.g. some universities offering scholarships to attract students with the highest grades. On the other hand, others might decide not to increase class sizes in order not to erode the quality of the student experience. However, overall the reform is expected to further concentrate students with the highest grades in the above elite group of universities, depriving in turn mid-ranking but competing universities of such recruits and forcing them to lower their fees from the maximum £9000 per year. This could lead to a form of social sorting between cheaper and more expensive universities according to Martin Hall , Vice-Chancellor of Salford University(average fees £8,400 per year).
Sir Steve Smith, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of Exeter University (one of the elite group) also warns that this high grades policy could be in conflict with government attempts to promote social mobility if it deters some universities from trying to attract higher potential applicants with lower grades from poorly performing schools. However, the response of the government is that universities can still take advantage of bursaries and payments from the new National Scholarship Scheme to maintain their levels of students from poorer families.
Lord Patten, Chancellor of Oxford University and Chairman of the BBC Trust, is not in favour of what he calls such positive discrimination. Although he is in favour of the principle of promoting social mobility, he considers it perverse that plans to be published by universities on how they intend to attract poorer students, could make it easier for such students to go to Oxford or Cambridge rather than say a much less prominent university.