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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    I agree but the universities cannot be blamed for that. Given that education is managed locally people should look to their local politicians and elect those that will try to ensure success and equality of opportunity rather than those that try to bring everything down to the level of the lowest.

    The other major factors are parents who do not value education and will not support schools by improving their children's attendance and behaviour, and the kids themselves, many of whom are easy prey for peer pressure (which is ironic given how many teenagers bleat about wanting to be treated as individuals).
    I agree with your second point but one of the largest problems with equal opportunities in our current education system is the lack of funding. Despite the government's effort to redistribute the funding across the country some of the poorest educational districts in the uk are barely able to fund exercise books.

    http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.u..._report_warns/

    My school happens to be in Bradford (one of the worst districts in the uk), not a single subject is able to provide A-Level textbooks to their students (even just to borrow), we run out of basic necessities such as glue-sticks within 3 months of the school year and don't have enough money to buy any more. Our canteen ran out of food last week as the catering company (private clearly) did not allow the staff to order any more food due to half term approaching. We run out of exercise books and printer paper by the time exams have hit us, year upon year, and our school does not receive enough funding to provide more.

    This lack of funding is apparently due to the fact that our school does well compared to the rest of Bradford. I and many others disagree with the basis of funding from Bradford council, unfortunately however, Bradford Council barely listens to our local councils due to us being so far away from the centre of Bradford.

    Change is hard but it needs to happen. Our government is killing our education system.
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    (Original post by ImprobableCacti)
    Change is hard but it needs to happen. Our government is killing our education system.
    And laughing as everyone starts blaming Oxford and Cambridge (where rather more people are left wing than certain stereotypes might assume) rather the systematic degradation of the education process.
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    (Original post by AllonsEnfants!)
    The main problem with Oxbridge admissions is that they are not transparent enough. Students with outstanding proven academic achievement are turned down in favour of students with mediocre achievement on the basis of, for example, interviews
    Evidence?

    No single thing, including a "less than good" interview, will be "fatal" to an application, if the rest of the application is strong.

    On the basis of one applicant in a FOI request to a single college you have drawn a conclusion that your evidence simply doesn't support. You don't know how well that applicant did in the HAA. You don't know how well that applicant did with written work. You don't know if the other candidate with "mediocre achievement" in GCSEs also went on to achieve AAAA in their AS-levels, etc, etc.
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    (Original post by DFranklin)
    And laughing as everyone starts blaming Oxford and Cambridge (where rather more people are left wing than certain stereotypes might assume) rather the systematic degradation of the education process.
    EXACTLY!!

    :facepalm:
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    (Original post by DFranklin)
    I think you have to pay attention to the scale of the effects. If we take the 2 quintiles with figures (because I'm too lazy to find them myself right now):

    We've got a Q4 to Q1 ratio of 6.6; ideally it would be 1. Here are two scenarios:

    (A) If the offer rates were equalized the ratio would be 5.4 (assuming an equal proportion of Q1 applicants would make their offers)
    (B) If the acceptance rates were equalized (which means also letting in some Q1 people who didn't get their grades), the ratio would be 4.5

    So yes, it would help, but by far the biggest contribution to the ratio is the lack of applications in the first place. [In fact, I'm sure Doonesbury isn't at all sanguine about the difference in ratios, but at the same time is aware that it's dwarfed by the problem with the lack of applications].

    I'll also note that (B) is a pretty extreme shift (letting people in who fail to make their offer). And that statistically, Q1 applicants are far more likely to miss their offer than Q4 applicants, so simply equalizing the offer rates (A) would be unlikely to make as much difference as I've calculated.

    From observation of helping people through STEP; it's not actually in a candidates interests to give them an offer they have very little chance of achieving.
    Your speaking to the Economist who failed their Maths module in my first year, so unfortunately you lost me at "scale of effect"

    Because of my lack of maths, all I see is the issue gets worse at each stage. I completely get the point about application numbers being the biggest issue (thats pretty damn obvious), but at each stage the percentage at the top becomes higher and the percentage at the bottom becomes smaller. The result is that those in the top 20% who applied are nearly twice as likely to start a course than those in the bottom 20%.

    I really hate to think what the comparative stat would be for those completing the course.
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    (Original post by AnaBaptist)
    Perhaps you could tell him he's got it all terribly wrong?
    Well, he has. He clearly doesn't understand statistics at all. The report says:

    Stephen Kinnock was reacting to figures which showed 101 pupils from Wales were offered places at Oxford in 2016 compared to 672 from the south east.

    Just how many from Wales should have been offered? The population of Wales is about three million. The population of the South-east is about eighteen million (and that excludes Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and southern East Anglia, right next door to Cambridge, just because I couldn't be bothered to check their populations.

    The figures look pretty comparable to me, even on a population basis and that is without taking account of distance. If anything, Wales is over-represented.
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    (Original post by J-SP)
    Your speaking to the Economist who failed their Maths module in my first year, so unfortunately you lost me at "scale of effect"

    Because of my lack of maths, all I see is the issue gets worse at each stage. I completely get the point about application numbers being the biggest issue (thats pretty damn obvious), but at each stage the percentage at the top becomes higher and the percentage at the bottom becomes smaller. The result is that those in the top 20% who applied are nearly twice as likely to start a course than those in the bottom 20%.

    I really hate to think what the comparative stat would be for those completing the course.
    Completion rates are very good at Oxbridge. But, yes, I do expect they may be relatively worse according to POLAR quintiles.
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    (Original post by AllonsEnfants!)
    Why would they when for colleges generally say you need 6/7 A* at GCSE to be put in the so-called Oxbridge group?

    I am now considering sending the stats from Christ's for History 2016 applicants to the local college to query this policy.
    You don't have to be in the Oxbridge group to apply. But yes getting your school/college to revise that "selection" criteria would be a good idea. My sons' school had it at 5A*s - still wrong though.
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    (Original post by DFranklin)
    [/i]
    That's not what I'm meaning by incredibly white, FWIW, I'm meaning "I've been walking around here all day, and I don't think I've seen a single black person". Lots of places like that in the UK once you get out of the cities.
    .
    And the reverse is true when you get into parts of some UK cities. And because black people only represent around 3% of the population overall and additionally tend to stick within their own communities in certain areas, it's hardly surprising that you don't see them everywhere you go. Likewise it is hardly surprising that only 3% of applicants to Cambridge are black.

    But I totally agree with your main point about unfairness in Oxbridge applications; not because they don't meet quotas for certain ethnic or socio-economic groups but because decisions are taken on the basis of, for example, interviews for which there is no record and those admission decisions are not audited for fairness.
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Completion rates are very good at Oxbridge. But, yes, I do expect they may be relatively worse according to POLAR quintiles.
    Guess thats the benefit of being much more closely monitored and supported by tutors and college staff/facilities.

    Someone suggested earlier in the thread that those completion stats could be "massaged" though.
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    (Original post by AllonsEnfants!)
    The main problem with Oxbridge admissions is that they are not transparent enough. Students with outstanding proven academic achievement are turned down in favour of students with mediocre achievement on the basis of, for example, interviews which are not recorded and for which notes are not kept.
    You've already been asked for a citation for this, but yeah, outside of the Royals (and believe me, I think the likes of Edward being admitted is a huge freakin' embarrassment to Oxbridge) I'm not aware of this happening.

    In order for the process to be seen to be fair, all records for each applicant should be kept (including recording of the interview) and these records should be made available to independent auditors to ensure fairness in the allocation of places.
    Practicalities:

    I sure as **** wouldn't want to be videoed during an interview. It's already an unnatural and stressful environment. Maybe the current generation would have less of an issue with it, I don't know.

    Interviewing *is* subjective. If you tried to make it objective, I expect that's actively going to hurt state school applicants. For sure, I was completely overcome by nerves and didn't do well in my interview (but still got in). Conversely as an employer, I've interviewed people who were obviously well drilled in interview technique, but we ended up preferring someone who was less smooth but didn't rattle our bull**** detectors. If interviewers feel they may have to defend decisions based on video, I suspect you'd get more of the safe, confident public-school educated stereotypes.

    Interviewing is also "comparative". That is, it's completely impossible to tell if person X was unfairly rejected just from looking at their interview (barring obvious unfairness such as asking impossible questions) You'd have to look at all the other interviews (or at least, all the ones who were successful) to determine if they were treated unfairly. Which starts adding a lot of extra burden.

    If it could be assured that there was fairness in the process, then it wouldn't matter what percentage of applicants were BME. Wouldn't you agree?
    The inequality amongst applications is the biggest factor in the inequality amongst admissions. And I think it's pretty clear some of that is unfair and should be fixed. (I think there are also issues like people tending to go to local universities - I'm not sure that can or should be fixed).
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    Well, he has. He clearly doesn't understand statistics at all. The report says:

    Stephen Kinnock was reacting to figures which showed 101 pupils from Wales were offered places at Oxford in 2016 compared to 672 from the south east.

    Just how many from Wales should have been offered? The population of Wales is about three million. The population of the South-east is about eighteen million (and that excludes Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and southern East Anglia, right next door to Cambridge, just because I couldn't be bothered to check their populations.

    The figures look pretty comparable to me, even on a population basis and that is without taking account of distance. If anything, Wales is over-represented.
    Did the figure include or exclude London for the 'South East' I wonder? The official government region of the South East of England does not include Greater London.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_East_England

    The population of that region (2011 figure) is given there as 8.635m. The population of Wales (2011) is given as 3.063m. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wales)

    Therefore on those approximate figures, the average entry for Wales is 0.0303 per million gross population and for the South East official region, 0.012 - apparently Wales does almost three times better than the South East! Back to school for you Stephen Kinnock. Or at least, back to the school of cheap political point revisions. :teehee:

    If the 672 figure includes London and the South East, then the picture is a more even ~0.02 per million, but still heavily biased to Wales.
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    (Original post by J-SP)
    Someone suggested earlier in the thread that those completion stats could be "massaged" though.
    Yes a bit, it's do with taking a year out of studies but not returning. But even if they are added into the "official" stats the overall completion rates are still much better than other universities.
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    (Original post by *pitseleh*)
    There's a world of difference between taking measures to level the playing field and striving for '100% equality' though.

    I disagree that affirmative action 'almost invariably makes things worse'; I think it's a necessary evil. In an ideal situation - from my point of view - Pupil B would have the same financial and educational opportunities as Pupil A from the beginning. That way, when they get to university level, there's no need for affirmative action; they've had comparable opportunities, and it's up to them as individuals what they've done with those opportunities. To leave things as they currently are (where there's a massive disparity between educational opportunities way before pupils ever even think about university) and to deny affirmative action is basically to say, 'you had **** circumstances growing up, and we're going to hold you to exactly the same standards as someone who had the most propitious upbringing'. You may think that's fair and reasonable; I don't think it's fair or reasonable at all.

    It seems that people who resent the idea of a 'helping hand' for certain university/job applicants are willing to ignore the significant 'helping hand' with which some people start life, and to avoid trying to change things so that no such artificial 'helping hands' are necessary in future.


    Well, once you're through the doors, you still have to sit the same university exams as everyone else. There's no special paper for people who were admitted with slightly lower entry requirements (the operative word being 'slightly'; we're not talking about one relatively privileged person being asked for A*A*A* while a relatively under-privileged person is asked for BBB).

    I don't know how exactly quotas worked at Oxford (i.e. where any purported leniency comes into play - is it with A-level results, personal statements, entrance exams?), but I do know that we all sat the same university exams.

    At medical school, the way affirmative action worked there was that if you went to one of a selection of poorly-performing state schools in South Yorkshire and participated in a one-year extra-curricular programme in Year 12, you were guaranteed an interview at Sheffield medical school, and were asked for ABB if you completed the programme and firmly accepted the offer. If those criteria weren't met (and assuming you passed the interview), you received the standard offer of AAA. We did have a fair few people drop out in the early years of med school but (at least in my cohort), none of them were the SOAMS students; all the ones I know have now graduated, having sat exactly the same exams as everyone else, and are working as doctors. I don't see the problem with that. The entrance doorway might have been slightly wider for them in terms of admission requirements. The exit was just as narrow for them as it was for every other student.


    No-one is suggesting that 'everyone has the capacity to be a PhD'. As above, a small 'affirmative action' concession is not tantamount to carte blanche; if someone is incapable due to their abilities or their work ethic, no slight (again, slight) relaxation of entry requirements is going to mask that. People still have to go to interviews to prove themselves and then do the work for themselves; no-one is giving them a lower pass mark or writing their PhD for them.


    Good for you. Believe it or not, there are a number of school-age pupils who don't have access to the internet, although they're in the minority (750,000 as of 2013; probably fewer now). There are a lot of other socioeconomic factors that make it harder for people to do what you've described doing, though, even with the internet.

    I worked a 30-hour week across two jobs while I was in sixth form doing my A-levels because we were poor. Admittedly we were one of those families that didn't have the internet while I was still of school age (it was a while ago, but the recent enough past that all of my friends did have home access to it), but even if I'd had the internet I was losing 30 hours of study time every week that lots of other people were able to take. On the other hand, I didn't have the sort of time-consuming caring role that some people have when they have dependent siblings/parents. We had one family computer (as above, sans internet), but at least I didn't have a bunch of school-aged siblings who all needed to use it for their schoolwork at the same time.

    As stated previously, it's not about saying any of these things constitute an automatic right to be waved through the doors of whatever prestigious institution you might set your mind on. It's about acknowledging that some people start out with rather more obstacles, and trying to do something small to remedy that.
    I agree with most of what you're saying and admit to using hyperbole in my arguments. I find you're efforts particularly admirable. In fact you've successfully changed my outlooks towards affirmative action through your argument. University admissions should definitely consider each applicant on an individual basis.

    Affirmative action when imbalanced can have huge unintended consequences. It was from reading horror stories of White South Africans that suffered in abject poverty as they were unable to find a job that initially made me sceptical towards affirmative action.

    Being from a single-parent household in Northern England myself; I will likely be a benefactor of affirmative action. If I was to go to a prestigious university or get a job of a prodigious nature I would want to know I got it from my own merit and not because I was given leeway due to my socioeconomic background.
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    (Original post by AllonsEnfants!)
    The main problem with Oxbridge admissions is that they are not transparent enough. Students with outstanding proven academic achievement are turned down in favour of students with mediocre achievement on the basis of, for example, interviews which are not recorded and for which notes are not kept.

    In order for the process to be seen to be fair, all records for each applicant should be kept (including recording of the interview) and these records should be made available to independent auditors to ensure fairness in the allocation of places.

    If it could be assured that there was fairness in the process, then it wouldn't matter what percentage of applicants were BME. Wouldn't you agree?
    I do agree with you.
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    (Original post by *pitseleh*)
    There's a world of difference between taking measures to level the playing field and striving for '100% equality' though.
    PRSOM
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    In a working environment, evidence suggests that interviews are the least likely predictor of future performance. There can actually be a negative correlation between interviews and performance on the job. I wonder if Oxbridge interviews have the same issue.
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Evidence?

    No single thing, including a "less than good" interview, will be "fatal" to an application, if the rest of the application is strong.

    On the basis of one applicant in a FOI request to a single college you have drawn a conclusion that your evidence simply doesn't support. You don't know how well that applicant did in the HAA. You don't know how well that applicant did with written work. You don't know if the other candidate with "mediocre achievement" in GCSEs also went on to achieve AAAA in their AS-levels, etc, etc.
    It's not just one applicant, if you look at the FOI request, there are several others with excellent grades (both achieved and predicted) which were turned down in favour of candidate with worse achieved AND predicted grades. Such grades would reasonably presuppose a comparatively better performance in written work and the HAA. So we are only left with interview for which there is no record according to this FOI request.

    Given the demand for places at Oxbridge and to ensure absolute fairness, all records (including recordings of interviews) should be kept and decisions documented with reference to them. This information should then be independently audited to ensure fairness in the decision making process. If this were done already, then David Lammy's (and my) mind could be put at rest.
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    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    Did the figure include or exclude London for the 'South East' I wonder? The official government region of the South East of England does not include Greater London.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_East_England

    The population of that region (2011 figure) is given there as 8.635m. The population of Wales (2011) is given as 3.063m. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wales)

    Therefore on those approximate figures, the average entry for Wales is 0.0303 per million gross population and for the South East official region, 0.012 - apparently Wales does almost three times better than the South East! Back to school for you Stephen Kinnock. Or at least, back to the school of cheap political point revisions. :teehee:

    If the 672 figure includes London and the South East, then the picture is a more even ~0.02 per million, but still heavily biased to Wales.
    Although you'd really need to look at the figures for the population of 18 year olds in those regions to get a fairer stat.
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    Well, he has. He clearly doesn't understand statistics at all. The report says:

    Stephen Kinnock was reacting to figures which showed 101 pupils from Wales were offered places at Oxford in 2016 compared to 672 from the south east.

    Just how many from Wales should have been offered? The population of Wales is about three million. The population of the South-east is about eighteen million (and that excludes Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and southern East Anglia, right next door to Cambridge, just because I couldn't be bothered to check their populations.

    The figures look pretty comparable to me, even on a population basis and that is without taking account of distance. If anything, Wales is over-represented.
    I think you need to look at separating the South East from the London statistics.
 
 
 
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