We need a new University Application System Watch

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the.austrian
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2 weeks ago I had a thought.

If an able bodied Olympic runner broke the world record for a marathon they would have achieved something great and many would pause to appreciate this achievement.

If a Paralympian ran a marathon and came within 15 minutes of that new world record, the world would be held in awe.

The greatest achievement would of course be the latter, because the Paralympian had to deal with harder conditions.

If a panel was tasked at picking a person based on their achievement, determination and sheer motivation than the Paralympian would rightfully be chosen.

Now picture a University system whereby those who are more privileged receive a better shot at higher education than those who are less privileged who work just as hard because of the conditions the pupil has to work in. (i.e. less access to HE admissions tutors/practice interviews/speaking with academics/poorer tuition/lower income/bereavement/being in care/disability).

When it comes to universities (especially Oxbridge) the argument is that the fastest marathon times (i.e. the highest grades/aptitude) win. I realise the interview/system is made to pick out raw/natural talent but I doubt an admission tutor can consistently differentiate the well trained public school kid, from the nervous but possibly 'genius' state school kid.

My preposition would be to have a "leveller" a system whereby grades are bumped up for kids in less privileged positions to fairly compare the achievement shown in their studies. An equation would have to be developed accounting factors mentioned above to produce an artificial points system (based on UMS/GCSE/SAT scores and school information), this would then be reviewed for each person based on individual circumstances against descriptors to ensure a fair artificial point score. (unfair points assigned can be appealed of course).

I realise:
a) This may discriminate against public schools but only an elite 7% can afford these, whereas Oxbridge (for example) is represented by a 60/40 state/private school demographic (surely it should be represented by a 93/7 demographic). This is not discrimination, this is removing discrimination

b)It would be difficult to put into place such a difficult system but this investment represents a free, fair nation.

c) Pupils may struggle to cope above their usual level of work (if there grades were generously bumped up)...however:

i) Research has shown that pupils from less privileged backgrounds do just as well at university when such a system is applied (if not better as they can cope with adverse/new conditions).

ii) An 'adaptability' test could be incurred where pupils' ability to adjust is tested to ensure pupils who would struggle are sent to a better suited university- this would only be used on pupils whose artificial points score are significantly higher than their actual grades.

Click here for a source which provides a balanced viewpoint.

Discuss.

EDIT: Streaming sets in Uni's would allow for those most academically able to still be pushed.

EDIT (II): I'm very happy with the Universities I have offers from, my opinions are based on observations which I've tried to keep as neutral as possible.
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Benniboi1
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While I'd love the whole education system to be more fair, I think a lot of people would be against 'bumping up' less privileged students grades - myself included and I probably count as a less privileged student. The system isn't that bad that state school kids are at a massive disadvantage, it's just that private school kids have a bit of a head start. Anyone can go anywhere if they work hard enough.

You remind me of me a couple of years ago, it's hard to have a system that is equal to everyone, rich kids will always have an advantage, just got to accept it and focus on your own prospects
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the.austrian
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(Original post by Benniboi1)
While I'd love the whole education system to be more fair, I think a lot of people would be against 'bumping up' less privileged students grades - myself included and I probably count as a less privileged student. The system isn't that bad that state school kids are at a massive disadvantage, it's just that private school kids have a bit of a head start. Anyone can go anywhere if they work hard enough.

You remind me of me a couple of years ago, it's hard to have a system that is equal to everyone, rich kids will always have an advantage, just got to accept it and focus on your own prospects
You do make a fair point. Although hard work is very useful, an ultimate dream (i.e. something of a VERY ambitious nature) can be very quickly locked off from people in less privileged backgrounds. It's not that this is a jealousy driven rant, more so a plea for fairness because I don't like races where someone has a head start (although I regardless try my best to catch up) I feel tasked to improve something about this system and at least make people aware that such a system could be softly introduced (at least as an advisor to admissions tutors- but not a decider).
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angelooo
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I completely disagree. After being a top student my whole life, I then fell ill at the most crucial time of my education and spent 2 years in hospital, missing out on crucial qualifications. After years of hard work and determination, I'm finally getting to go to uni and I'm so much better off that I've had that experience. If my grades were bumped up because I was at a disadvantage, I'd never have learnt anything from it. I'd be going through life expecting things to "just work out" as opposed to working for it and earning it.
The way I see it is if you want it, you'll work for it. Going to public school is not a disadvantage at all, in my opinion.
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the.austrian
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(Original post by angelooo)
I completely disagree. After being a top student my whole life, I then fell ill at the most crucial time of my education and spent 2 years in hospital, missing out on crucial qualifications. After years of hard work and determination, I'm finally getting to go to uni and I'm so much better off that I've had that experience. If my grades were bumped up because I was at a disadvantage, I'd never have learnt anything from it. I'd be going through life expecting things to "just work out" as opposed to working for it and earning it.
The way I see it is if you want it, you'll work for it. Going to public school is not a disadvantage at all, in my opinion.
If I phrase it differently, should it not be a human right that from birth if I put X amount of effort into something I should get Y amount of achievement out of it, regardless of the background I come from.

I realise hardship defines us, makes us want more and hungry, but taking a neutral overview to this there are thousands of dreams crushed simply from where someone is born, isn't that wrong?

Oh and it's great to hear that you overcame illness and then got into university, and I do recognise your point, it is often situation dependent and for some people different things would be a better system.
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Benniboi1
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(Original post by the.austrian)
You do make a fair point. Although hard work is very useful, an ultimate dream (i.e. something of a VERY ambitious nature) can be very quickly locked off from people in less privileged backgrounds. It's not that this is a jealousy driven rant, more so a plea for fairness because I don't like races where someone has a head start (although I regardless try my best to catch up) I feel tasked to improve something about this system and at least make people aware that such a system could be softly introduced (at least as an advisor to admissions tutors- but not a decider).
After I posted that I realised it was the most pessimistic thing I've said in ages.

That's very true, it's important to keep it in context though, there's enough financial help for everyone of our generation to go to university and get a degree if they want too. It's possible to go from being the first in your family to go to university and get a very good job after (even if you still currently need to have a lot of contacts to get the very top jobs).

It's hard to see how the gap can be closed much more.
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TenOfThem
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On the one hand I understand what you mean

My daughter is applying at the moment, whilst not advantaged by private education, she is advantaged in many ways ... mostly because we value education as a family

She is also reasonably bright

Had she had a private education rather than a National Challenge School education perhaps she would be looking at A*A*A* this year

HOWEVER

On the other hand

People start an academic course with a set of skills and a body of knowledge

Whatever the injustices of the secondary school system that we have ... if she just does not know as much as others at this point ... why should they be held back at the next level because people with less knowledge and/or fewer skills have had grade inflation
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the.austrian
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(Original post by Benniboi1)
After I posted that I realised it was the most pessimistic thing I've said in ages.

That's very true, it's important to keep it in context though, there's enough financial help for everyone of our generation to go to university and get a degree if they want too. It's possible to go from being the first in your family to go to university and get a very good job after (even if you still currently need to have a lot of contacts to get the very top jobs).

It's hard to see how the gap can be closed much more.
The issue is it's very difficult to quantify such things as 'privileged' but the same goes for achievement. My marathon analogy is clear cut whereas in real life there are often very grey cases which the system I suggest would fail.

The financial help is great, I have to admit despite higher tuition fees the government has made university affordable for everyone (in terms of living costs/tuition fees). Now it's time to make getting into university affordable (as in free education being just as good as private). How would banning fee paying schools go down?

I think if your viewpoint and my viewpoint converged we could have a system that covers all bases.
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abzy1234
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I live in one of the so called "most deprived areas" in the country, where youth employment is around 20% and a large number of unskilled migrants.

However, I go to a wonderful comprehensive, where the teachers do an exemplary job; I have luckily had a disciplined upbringing and always focused on doing the best I can at my studies. I have never felt, nor wanted to feel, disadvantaged from my roots; rather be proud and use it to my advantage. If all goes well, I should be attending a respected red-brick university next year.

My family gets under £10k in income, and just over £13k when you include benefits. Never have I felt the need for money nor financially restrained. It really is the mentality you place in your mind.

I always say to be grateful and content for what you have, in any scenario, it could have been worse.

And I think our University application is far from unfair, no university discriminates against one because of their background. It's all your mindset, be positive
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the.austrian
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(Original post by TenOfThem)
On the one hand I understand what you mean

My daughter is applying at the moment, whilst not advantaged by private education, she is advantaged in many ways ... mostly because we value education as a family

She is also reasonably bright

Had she had a private education rather than a National Challenge School education perhaps she would be looking at A*A*A* this year

HOWEVER

On the other hand

People start an academic course with a set of skills and a body of knowledge

Whatever the injustices of the secondary school system that we have ... if she just does not know as much as others at this point ... why should they be held back at the next level because people with less knowledge and/or fewer skills have had grade inflation
Your second point is a concern of mine, how does one account for those who could change the world (if there was a private school child who was on the verge of curing cancer-you wouldn't turn them away would you?).

Streaming abilities into a top, middle and bottom set in universities would be one option (but then would only the top ability be cared for?)...maybe a financial incentive from the government would reward Uni's for developing pupils the most, rather than the highest grades so all abilities would be just as important.

I think a student would be very pleased to get into a top university regardless of being in a top or bottom set.
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Benniboi1
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(Original post by the.austrian)
The issue is it's very difficult to quantify such things as 'privileged' but the same goes for achievement. My marathon analogy is clear cut whereas in real life there are often very grey cases which the system I suggest would fail.

The financial help is great, I have to admit despite higher tuition fees the government has made university affordable for everyone (in terms of living costs/tuition fees). Now it's time to make getting into university affordable (as in free education being just as good as private). How would banning fee paying schools go down?

I think if your viewpoint and my viewpoint converged we could have a system that covers all bases.
Edit: I agree that its hard to quantify how privileged someone is

The problem (in my opinion) lies with the parents that pay to send their children to private schools (i don't at all blame them, they want the best for their kids) but when they pay crazy sums of money per term the school is able to attract the very best teachers with better salaries than they would ever get at state schools. If all the top teachers go to private schools then already state schools are at a disadvantage.

I used to be all for banning fee paying schools until some bright spark made me realise that parents will then just pay for very good tutors. If everyone was committed to making it fairer then it could be done but not all of those with money are committed to making it fairer.
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the.austrian
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(Original post by abzy1234)
I live in one of the so called "most deprived areas" in the country, where youth employment is around 20% and a large number of unskilled migrants.

However, I go to a wonderful comprehensive, where the teachers do an exemplary job; I have luckily had a disciplined upbringing and always focused on doing the best I can at my studies. I have never felt, nor wanted to feel, disadvantaged from my roots; rather be proud and use it to my advantage. If all goes well, I should be attending a respected red-brick university next year.

My family gets under £10k in income, and just over £13k when you include benefits. Never have I felt the need for money nor financially restrained. It really is the mentality you place in your mind.

I always say to be grateful and content for what you have, in any scenario, it could have been worse.

And I think our University application is far from unfair, no university discriminates against one because of their background. It's all your mindset, be positive
I have to say this is a great story (I was hoping this sort of proof of background doesn't matter would turn up!).

You are right Uni's do not discriminate on background directly, but they do discriminate on grades. So if poorer grades were an intrinsic result of a poorer background then they would indirectly (and fair enough: unknowingly) discriminate again poorer background.

Many (like yourself) dig in hard and it shows in your work and achievements. But your achievement may be more valid then someone who's had thousands of pounds to achieve the same grades as you. You may be both as intelligent but the standard person on the street would admire your achievement slightly more (I know I would).
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the.austrian
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(Original post by Benniboi1)
The problem (in my opinion) lies with the parents that pay to send their children to private schools (i don't at all blame them, they want the best for their kids) but when they pay crazy sums of money per term the school is able to attract the very best teachers with better salaries than they would ever get at state schools. If all the top teachers go to private schools then already state schools are at a disadvantage.

I used to be all for banning fee paying schools until some bright spark made me realise that parents will then just pay for very good tutors. If everyone was committed to making it fairer then it could be done but not all of those with money are committed to making it fairer.
Unfortunately money, (possibly the spawn of satan) always plays a role. Tutors would be very difficult to regulate but it feels an awful lot like this business with Lance Armstrong doping to win on what he called a level playing field (although less extreme of course).

You're right if everyone had that attitude to try and work together for fairness then it might just work- only issue is human nature is one which is driven by success.

Armies seem to be good at levelling backgrounds, but through a certain element of dehumanisation. It there a humane or fair method which they employ to make people even, which could be transferred into normal society?
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TenOfThem
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(Original post by the.austrian)
Your second point is a concern of mine, how does one account for those who could change the world (if there was a private school child who was on the verge of curing cancer-you wouldn't turn them away would you?)
I am not turning anyone away

I am saying that degrees match the profile of the cohort

So a degree that accepts people who have A*A*A is tailored to meet their needs ... if they admitted some students with BBB because they were disadvantaged by their situation rather than by their intelligence would mean that the degree would have to change it's profile

And that is not a reasonable request
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dontbtz
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The fact that those with better educational opportunities have more success in gaining university places is no surprise, nor is it any fault of the university application system. Surely, rather than making the university application system more equitable we should focus on reducing the inequality between educational opportunities from the beginning so we don't encounter this problem?
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the.austrian
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(Original post by TenOfThem)
I am not turning anyone away

I am saying that degrees match the profile of the cohort

So a degree that accepts people who have A*A*A is tailored to meet their needs ... if they admitted some students with BBB because they were disadvantaged by their situation rather than by their intelligence would mean that the degree would have to change it's profile

And that is not a reasonable request
Sorry I didn't come across properly. What I meant to say was that I agreed with you, and I'm also concerned about it. How would we adapt with a wider spread of pupils- although the article says that sorts itself out anyway, my suggestion of streaming sets is one way of dealing with it.
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the.austrian
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(Original post by dontbtz)
The fact that those with better educational opportunities have more success in gaining university places is no surprise, nor is it any fault of the university application system. Surely, rather than making the university application system more equitable we should focus on reducing the inequality between educational opportunities from the beginning so we don't encounter this problem?
Excellent point, but as aforementioned here, parents will do anything if they have money to give the best for their child.

The only other way is to bring up state school standards (which in terms of grades aren't THAT bad in a lot of cases). The mains issues are links with HE organisations and opportunities for work experience/meeting tutors/having contacts etc.

I think a combination of both is needed. A system to improve both things so they meet in the middle at compromise.
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TenOfThem
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(Original post by the.austrian)
Sorry I didn't come across properly. What I meant to say was that I agreed with you, and I'm also concerned about it. How would we adapt with a wider spread of pupils- although the article says that sorts itself out anyway, my suggestion of streaming sets is one way of dealing with it.
I agree

I see students on here who have been taught sooooooo very badly but have tremendous potential

In maths we are lucky that good students can self teach (if they can avoid the pitfalls of taught misconceptions)

But that is not the case in many other subjects



So bright people suffer because they are taught badly and/or because their environment does not enable academic progress


But what is the real alternative ... any selection process can be coached for and the same individuals will be advantaged/disadvantaged
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Juichiro
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(Original post by Benniboi1)
While I'd love the whole education system to be more fair, I think a lot of people would be against 'bumping up' less privileged students grades - myself included and I probably count as a less privileged student. The system isn't that bad that state school kids are at a massive disadvantage, it's just that private school kids have a bit of a head start. Anyone can go anywhere if they work hard enough.

You remind me of me a couple of years ago, it's hard to have a system that is equal to everyone, rich kids will always have an advantage, just got to accept it and focus on your own prospects
Abraham Lincoln is right. Dumbing down the education or bumping up poor students won't help in the long run.
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Dukeofwembley
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(Original post by Benniboi1)
Edit: I agree that its hard to quantify how privileged someone is

The problem (in my opinion) lies with the parents that pay to send their children to private schools (i don't at all blame them, they want the best for their kids) but when they pay crazy sums of money per term the school is able to attract the very best teachers with better salaries than they would ever get at state schools. If all the top teachers go to private schools then already state schools are at a disadvantage.

I used to be all for banning fee paying schools until some bright spark made me realise that parents will then just pay for very good tutors. If everyone was committed to making it fairer then it could be done but not all of those with money are committed to making it fairer.
cant you understand

smarter people make more money
send the kids off to private school
kids have smart genes, cycle repeats itself

(in general) obviously
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