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    (Original post by Hirsty97)
    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.
    Thanks - I appreciate you saying so.

    I had a feeling you might have been thinking of South Africa when you made reference to the stoking of class tensions, though it's not the only case where affirmative action hasn't gone to plan. There are lots of potential reasons for the unintended consequences in SA - one of the common complaints is that the methods used helped people into certain jobs without addressing the issues that were acting as a barrier to them getting those jobs in the first place. This is why I refer to affirmative action as a 'necessary evil'; I think it's useful in trying to open a few more doors, but the real reason those doors might have been closed to begin with starts far earlier. Trying to narrow the gap between best- and worst-performing secondary schools would be a more fruitful aim long-term; affirmative action is an interim measure to my mind.

    With regards to not wanting to feel as though you've been given leeway due to your background: I get you. I am (as alluded to above) from a relatively low-income background too, albeit one in South Wales; I am also proud and don't want to feel like I've been handed anything I've not earned. All I can say is: be a bit kinder to yourself. Do pupils with parents who can afford it tend to reject (e.g.) private tuition, because they've 'not earned it' personally? Even if an admissions tutor takes your relatively fewer opportunities into consideration and offers you that interview a little bit more freely, no-one's going to answer those interview questions for you. No-one's going to say 'that guy's interview performance was awful, but we'll take a chance on him anyway'. All they're intending is to give you a better chance of getting into that interview in the first place. The rest is up to you.

    DOI: I have sat on interview panels in my final year of med school. I know what they talk about when the interviewee has left the room.

    (Original post by J-SP)
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    They have all of those.

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    Good to hear. Doesn’t make them fool proof or more accurate than other measures/assessments though.
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    You said Oxbridge has "great value" clearly implying other universities don't.

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    Yes. I said it has 'great' not 'greater' or 'greatest'. Although it does because
    Oxford and Cambridge offer their students world-class resources in terms of libraries; fellows etc. Of course an Oxbridge place is something which is prized. And that is why the allocation of a place should be independently scrutinised: it would probably satisfy David Lammy and Stephen Kinnock and it would no doubt make your role in defending the fairness of Oxbridge admissions that much easier.
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    (Original post by J-SP)
    But they clearly aren’t doing enough with the actual admissions process - the stats which ever way you cut them are woefully disproportionate.

    It’s great they are doing all of these things, but it either isn’t working or isn’t enough.
    How so? Everyone goes through the same admissions process. Do you think they should skip some steps for underrepresented students or something?

    (Original post by J-SP)
    I think that spending more than 0.6% of their revenue on these initiatives and bursaries would be a good start.
    I believe they are currently both running at a deficit, but I agree it would be good to expand these schemes further.
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    (Original post by J-SP)
    Good to hear. Doesn’t make them fool proof or more accurate than other measures/assessments though.
    Correct, and that's why a "less good" interview at Cambridge won't necessarily be "fatal" to an otherwise strong application. I get the feeling the interview is more important at Oxford though (could be wrong...).
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Yup, interviewees are terrible at judging how well their interview went. The interviewers will have seen beyond the tears (and often extreme shyness) to find the potential.
    This is true. Most people are their worst critics and over analyse points that the interviewers probably didnt even notice or care about. Lost count how many people will say to me their interview went terribly, over analyse it to minute detail and then contact me a week or so later and then say they got it.

    Only a small fraction get it the wrong way round, and they are typically over confident/arrogant people who have never failed at anything so can’t understand what it’s like to “go wrong”
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Yup, interviewees are terrible at judging how well their interview went. The interviewers will have seen beyond the tears (and often extreme shyness) to find the potential.
    "Yup The interviewers will have seen beyond the tears (and often extreme shyness) to find the potential."

    An independent assessor would expect the same standards be applied to all applicants, however. It's called fairness.
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    (Original post by AllonsEnfants!)
    Hope you don't get me into trouble with Doonesbury for posting this FOI information again(sorry Doonesbury ) regarding History at Christ's Cambridge but it's essential to show you that it does happen (source: WhatDoTheyKnow). I am completely shocked.
    The successful applicants have good AS scores and mediocre GCSE scores. The issue here is the completely missing context: if someone gets 3 A* and goes on to be scoring almost 90 UMS at A/S, then there's almost certainly *something* interesting in their background. But I certainly don't find these figures shocking (*).

    I'll note that you can't expect Oxbridge to take into account background, quality of school etc. to make things fairer for minorities and economically deprived students while at the same time complaining that candidates aren't accepted strictly on exam scores.

    I know your mainly banging on about transparency right now, but I'll note that one person's FOI request is another person's invasion of privacy. I have a suspicion that for every inquiry questioning whether "My son was turned down because he's black", you'll have 10 inquiries questioning whether "My son was turned down because he's white and from a private school even though he was better than the black boy they accepted". There may be some acceptable middle ground, but I can't help feeling it ends up with a whole lot of stress-inducing machinery over what is a relatively small factor in the overall problem.

    (*) On the rejection side, I've noticed there generally seems to be a higher number of very highly scoring candidates rejected than might be expected. I'm curious about why this is; I am certainly aware of people who effectively apply "after 2 years into a degree somewhere else" in the desire to get an Oxbridge degree who probably get rejected at interview. And I suspect very highly scoring candidates may be more likely to want special treatment (going up a year early, important to them that they get to do an option not normally available on a course) that turns out to be a deal breaker. As I say, I'm curious - but I don't mistake that for a need to know.
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    (Original post by AllonsEnfants!)
    "Yup The interviewers will have seen beyond the tears (and often extreme shyness) to find the potential."

    An independent assessor would expected the same standards be applied to all applicants, however. It's called fairness.
    Behaviour in interviews isn’t standardised. This is the fairest thing to do. Look beyond initial nerves and assess fairly against specific criteria and not get caught up by factors that don’t need to be assessed (like nerves).
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    (Original post by J-SP)
    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.
    Cambridge have found that the strongest predictor of tripos success is A-level results, but no negative correlation between interview and success. The interview is more like a mock supervision/tutorial than a job interview.
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    (Original post by AllonsEnfants!)
    "Yup The interviewers will have seen beyond the tears (and often extreme shyness) to find the potential."

    An independent assessor would expected the same standards be applied to all applicants, however. It's called fairness.
    The fairness is in finding the potential in the "emotional" candidate and seeing through the arrogant bluster in the other candidate to find they didn't have the same potential.

    That's fairness.
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    (Original post by DFranklin)
    (*) On the rejection side, I've noticed there generally seems to be a higher number of very highly scoring candidates rejected than might be expected.
    The high scores (e.g IB 45) were predictions.
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    (Original post by DFranklin)
    The successful applicants have good AS scores and mediocre GCSE scores. The issue here is the completely missing context: if someone gets 3 A* and goes on to be scoring almost 90 UMS at A/S, then there's almost certainly *something* interesting in their background..
    The point is that the successful candidates scored 2 A* or 3* A* at GCSE (compared with 10 or 11 A* at GCSE) and had worse UMS scores than those with better GCSE grades. So their performance picked up when they could concentrate on a narrower range of subjects at A level, but they still weren't predicted to achieve the standard at A level of those with the string of A* GCSEs which were rejected.

    Of course suspicions are bound to arise when decisions are taken like this behind closed doors without the need for independent scrutiny.
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    The fairness is in finding the potential in the "emotional" candidate and seeing through the arrogant bluster in the other candidate to find they didn't have the same potential.

    That's fairness.
    Just because someone is able to get through the interview without the need to burst into tears when asked a question doesn't automatically mean they will display "arrogant bluster".

    But I suppose it all doesn't matter. None of this discussion will change anything; if Lammy casts a spotlight on the admissions system that is a good thing. But I wish he'd realise that it is the lack of scrutiny and accountability which lies at the root of the problem rather than inherent racism: if he did I think most people would agree with him.
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    (Original post by J-SP)
    Doesn’t sound any different to a work environment interview. Any interview is prone to flaw and biases, and evidence time and time again shows they are one of the worst ways to select people. Certain measures can be put in place (multiple interviewers/interviews; assessor training; using other evidence or assessments to support decisions) to reduce those risks.
    At Oxbridge you have at least 2 interviews, each of which are with at least 2 interviewers
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    (Original post by Etoile)
    Cambridge have found that the strongest predictor of tripos success is A-level results, but no negative correlation between interview and success. The interview is more like a mock supervision/tutorial than a job interview.
    Not overly surprising really. Good there is no negative correlation and I guess the interview is a two way process to let them know what they are letting themselves in for (to a limited extent) even if there isn’t a strong correlation.
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    Also I mean you can be given mock interviews by your school but that wont really help you that much. At the interviews they ask you questions to see how you think. You don't need to know someone irl to tell you what they are looking for, there's loads of information online if you just have the initiative to look for it. I am obviously quite nervous but hopefully I'll be able to perform well enough in interview. I'm quite used to explaining things out loud in lessons as I try to explain things to teachers so they can check my understanding.
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    (Original post by black1blade)
    Also I mean you can be given mock interviews by your school but that wont really help you that much. At the interviews they ask you questions to see how you think. You don't need to know someone irl to tell you what they are looking for, there's loads of information online if you just have the initiative to look for it.
    I'd say it's not that you need someone to tell you what they're looking for, it's that you need the experience of going through a process where the teacher is asking you things you don't know how to do, and trying to get through that / pick up on hints given.

    It's not an easy thing to simulate (*): I've helped out with STEP on TSR for 10 years (and supervised at Cambridge in my past), and I'm not confident I could do it well. I think most teachers would find it difficult to say the least.

    (*) And of course, impossible to simulate that you don't know the interviewer, you're in an unfamiliar environment, and this is probably the most important interview of your life (so far).
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    (Original post by DFranklin)
    I'd say it's not that you need someone to tell you what they're looking for, it's that you need the experience of going through a process where the teacher is asking you things you don't know how to do, and trying to get through that / pick up on hints given.

    It's not an easy thing to simulate (*): I've helped out with STEP on TSR for 10 years (and supervised at Cambridge in my past), and I'm not confident I could do it well. I think most teachers would find it difficult to say the least.

    (*) And of course, impossible to simulate that you don't know the interviewer, you're in an unfamiliar environment, and this is probably the most important interview of your life (so far).
    Hmm yeah maybe I'll be complaining about unfairness if I don't get in lol although I am in a privileged position as to go to a southern state school that gets a handful people into oxbridge a year. I was discussing this with my mum in the car today because yes I live in a very low income household but my mum came from a fairly middle class background and she sent me to the best state schools in the area because she values my education. I'd suspect many people's parents don't care about their education at all which automatically puts you at a big disadvantage.

    And yeah the interview is definitely a high pressure thing but so is being at any university and exams are p much the definition of high pressure.
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    (Original post by black1blade)
    And yeah the interview is definitely a high pressure thing but so is being at any university and exams are p much the definition of high pressure.
    Well, I guess this is partly the "oh good, no pressure" side of oxbridge applications (at least for some people); the other university applications are relatively unstressful (they want you to come to them), and you know you have a very good chance of getting the exam grades. But I'm 25+ years past graduation and I'd say the Cambridge interview is still probably #1 in most stressful experiences. (Waiting to see a consultant for a "you do / don't have cancer" discussion, is the only real contender - build up was worse, experience was better (I didn't)).

    [Maths is possibly weird like this. Even at Cambridge, most of us who got firsts at "knew" we were almost certainly going to get a first (I could have skipped an exam and still got a first). Whereas I came top in the year doing my MSc in Comp Sci and didn't have anything like that level of certainty].
 
 
 
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