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Oxbridge = Inaccessible to most students? watch

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    (Original post by AllonsEnfants!)
    https://www.theguardian.com/educatio...ns-really-work

    Remember that article? Of course teachers need training.

    "A good school" is a high-performing one. It is a school that knows what Cambridge requires, where the school reference is delivered in the terms the university is looking for – the key phrases are ones that emphasise superlative performance compared with their age group: "He [or she] is best in … he is top of …"

    "The school doesn't know how to write a reference," another comments.

    "There is consternation about a candidate who is applying to read natural sciences without having either maths or biology; he is taking physics and chemistry but his third A-level is an arts subject. The lack of maths rules him out for the study of physics. The absence of biology means he will struggle to be accepted as a biologist... "I feel sorry for him, but I don't think we can fix the problem."
    That would be the same for applying to many "top" universities. It's not an issue that Oxbridge should be expected to fix.

    Although outreach conferences do address those points.

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    Oxbridge are biased towards the elite.
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    Most reforms at Oxbridge have been imposed from outside by government. I have a radical plan.

    The first thing is both universities are constrained by a physical inability to expand. I would create a University of Chelmsford and send Anglia Ruskin packing from Cambridge. Likewise the University of Reading lacks critical mass. They can have the academics, the courses and the students but not the buildings from Brookes.

    Both Oxford and Cambridge should each create two new undergraduate halls; halfway to being independent colleges. Both universities should be set a target of achieving the same number of home undergraduates of both sexes as the number of home males they had, immediately before the men's colleges went mixed. Put the new colleges and extra accommodation for the other colleges on the Ruskin and Brookes campuses.

    Each university should offer degrees with an integrated foundation year so as to be eligible for student funding in the ordinary way. Run a residential selection exercise during the long vac in the middle of VIth form based solely on potential. Put geographic & racial quotas in place for spots in the selection exercise and limit the spots to pupils of target schools but do not create quotas for university places.

    Where is the money coming from? Effectively from the universities and their fund-raising capabilities. The universities do not have a right to insist that somehow students are some sort of additional burden. I get rather annoyed when Oxbridge claim they subsidise undergraduate teaching. They are educational charities, It is rather like Guide Dogs for the Blind complaining it has to buy dog food.
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    The real fallacy here is that there is an assumption by the media that all qualified applicants would actually *want* go to Oxbridge, or that they *should*. The idea of being surrounded by tribes of okay-yahs all air-kissing and asking each other 'where did you Prep' holds no appeal at all for many UCAS applicants. This fact doesnt seem to occur to Education journalists.
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Well I was excluding the Scottish ones because they have early years generally anyway.

    And yes many of those schemes (ie. London unis) are more for internationals
    And there is more than a suspicion that they are a money making racket taking students who are obviously intellectually unfitted for the full degree course.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    Most reforms at Oxbridge have been imposed from outside by government. I have a radical plan.

    The first thing is both universities are constrained by a physical inability to expand. I would create a University of Chelmsford and send Anglia Ruskin packing from Cambridge. Likewise the University of Reading lacks critical mass. They can have the academics, the courses and the students but not the buildings from Brookes.

    Both Oxford and Cambridge should each create two new undergraduate halls; halfway to being independent colleges. Both universities should be set a target of achieving the same number of home undergraduates of both sexes as the number of home males they had, immediately before the men's colleges went mixed. Put the new colleges and extra accommodation for the other colleges on the Ruskin and Brookes campuses.

    Each university should offer degrees with an integrated foundation year so as to be eligible for student funding in the ordinary way. Run a residential selection exercise during the long vac in the middle of VIth form based solely on potential. Put geographic & racial quotas in place for spots in the selection exercise and limit the spots to pupils of target schools but do not create quotas for university places.

    Where is the money coming from? Effectively from the universities and their fund-raising capabilities. The universities do not have a right to insist that somehow students are some sort of additional burden. I get rather annoyed when Oxbridge claim they subsidise undergraduate teaching. They are educational charities, It is rather like Guide Dogs for the Blind complaining it has to buy dog food.
    Cambridge did have plans for new colleges in the early 2000s and to grow total student (UG & PG) numbers by 5k or so. Not sure why that didn't happen.
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    (Original post by AllonsEnfants!)
    Of course teachers need training.

    "There is consternation about a candidate who is applying to read natural sciences without having either maths or biology; he is taking physics and chemistry but his third A-level is an arts subject. The lack of maths rules him out for the study of physics. The absence of biology means he will struggle to be accepted as a biologist... "I feel sorry for him, but I don't think we can fix the problem."
    Frankly, it is nothing to do with Oxbridge or its admission process when a school allows a bright pupil who wishes to study natural sciences anywhere to take A-levels that exclude both maths and biology. That is simply (and obviously) inadequate preparation for a science course, as well as uncompetitive.
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    (Original post by returnmigrant)
    The real fallacy here is that there is an assumption by the media that all qualified applicants would actually *want* go to Oxbridge, or that they *should*. The idea of being surrounded by tribes of okay-yahs all air-kissing and asking each other 'where did you Prep' holds no appeal at all for many UCAS applicants. This fact doesnt seem to occur to Education journalists.
    Spot on, until you perpetutated the myth.
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    Frankly, it is nothing to do with Oxbridge or its admission process when a school allows a bright pupil who wishes to study natural sciences anywhere to take A-levels that exclude both maths and biology. That is simply (and obviously) inadequate preparation for a science course, as well as uncompetitive.
    With respect, the candidate probably and his teachers possibly didn't know Cambridge only runs an odd mixed science course.

    Assuming the candidate is good at history are you going to tell the school head of history, he wasn't having him for A level?

    To be fair both Oxford and Cambridge have eliminated a huge number of admissions traps like this over the last 30 years.
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    Am I right in thinking the Oxford (LMH) foundation year is only for people under 19? Not sure how useful that is if you're targeting poor, disadvantaged prospective students.
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    (Original post by Snufkin)
    Am I right in thinking the Oxford (LMH) foundation year is only for people under 19? Not sure how useful that is if you're targeting poor, disadvantaged prospective students.
    Yes, but aren't there any poor, disadvantaged prospective students under the age of 19?
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Spot on, until you perpetutated the myth.
    Yeah, is it necessarily the right thing for everyone anyway? Everything should be done to give people who would benefit equal access and opportunity but it's easy to forget that it is a high-pressure, academically-focused environment - something which does not suit everyone.

    Being at a so-called "lesser" university doesn't mean you're not as "bright", and being "bright"/academic (nevermind the fact that human intelligence is far broader than academic capability) isn't the ultimate goal for everyone in life. I have a friend who studies at the Open University and the support for her disability has been completely fantastic and utterly flexible - and it suits her because at this point in her life she can't attend a brick-and-mortar uni.

    Applying to Oxford or Cambridge or any top university is a choice, it has to be one that people can reasonably consider and decide if it's for them or not on the basis of personal reasons (eg course structure/content), not false ideas about what the universities are like. Everyone should be given the *opportunity* and resources to make this choice (through improving state schools, extra funding, outreach work etc) but it is ultimately an individual choice about what you want to study (if at all) and where for three (not insignificant) years of your life.
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Yes, but aren't there any poor, disadvantaged prospective students under the age of 19?
    Well yes, of course, but an arbitrary age limit seems quite unfair. What about all those 20 and 30 somethings who grew up (and in many cases, still are) equally disadvantaged? I know Oxford's DfCE does Foundation Certificates in History and English, but more could be done. I think Durham is the only top university in the UK that has legitimate foundation routes for mature students.
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    (Original post by Snufkin)
    Well yes, of course, but an arbitrary age limit seems quite unfair. What about all those 20 and 30 somethings who grew up (and in many cases, still are) equally disadvantaged? I know Oxford's DfCE does Foundation Certificates in History and English, but more could be done. I think Durham is the only top university in the UK that has legitimate foundation routes for mature students.
    Cambridge (and possibly Oxford but I'm not so familiar) does accept students with Access to HE qualifications.

    But yes I'd like to see foundation years expanded anyway, and be offered by other colleges - including the mature ones. (I know mature students can apply to standard age colleges but often they end up at mature colleges...)
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    (Original post by auburnstar)
    Yeah, is it necessarily the right thing for everyone anyway? Everything should be done to give people who would benefit equal access and opportunity but it's easy to forget that it is a high-pressure, academically-focused environment - something which does not suit everyone.

    Being at a so-called "lesser" university doesn't mean you're not as "bright", and being "bright"/academic (nevermind the fact that human intelligence is far broader than academic capability) isn't the ultimate goal for everyone in life. I have a friend who studies at the Open University and the support for her disability has been completely fantastic and utterly flexible - and it suits her because at this point in her life she can't attend a brick-and-mortar uni.

    Applying to Oxford or Cambridge or any top university is a choice, it has to be one that people can reasonably consider and decide if it's for them or not on the basis of personal reasons (eg course structure/content), not false ideas about what the universities are like. Everyone should be given the *opportunity* and resources to make this choice (through improving state schools, extra funding, outreach work etc) but it is ultimately an individual choice about what you want to study (if at all) and where for three (not insignificant) years of your life.
    It wasn't the right thing for me:wavey:

    Sadly about 900 years of grandeur has allowed both institutions to be immersed into myth:sad:
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Cambridge (and possibly Oxford but I'm not so familiar) does accept students with Access to HE qualifications.

    But yes I'd like to see foundation years expanded anyway, and be offered by other colleges - including the mature ones. (I know mature students can apply to standard age colleges but often they end up at mature colleges...)
    True, but Access courses aren't available everywhere (my local college only does Access to Nursing, and the next closest college has just closed their Access course dept). The bigger problem is that Access to HE students do not have access no maintenance loans, if you're studying whilst working full-time then getting the grades necessary for Oxbridge is very difficult indeed.
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    (Original post by Snufkin)
    True, but Access courses aren't available everywhere (my local college only does Access to Nursing, and the next closest college has just closed their Access course dept). The bigger problem is that Access to HE students do not have access no maintenance loans, if you're studying whilst working full-time then getting the grades necessary for Oxbridge is very difficult indeed.
    OU credits? (I do agree the FY should be expanded though - assuming the results for the early cohorts merit it...)
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    OU credits? (I do agree the FY should be expanded though - assuming the results for the early cohorts merit it...)
    That is technically possible (although I've never actually spoken to anyone who got into Oxford or Cambridge with just OU credits), but there are student finance issues to take into account if you take OU credits and then begin a new degree from scratch.
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    (Original post by Snufkin)
    That is technically possible (although I've never actually spoken to anyone who got into Oxford or Cambridge with just OU credits), but there are student finance issues to take into account if you take OU credits and then begin a new degree from scratch.
    The gift year though?
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    The gift year though?
    It depends on how long you study with the OU. If you do all 120 OU credits, the minimum you'd need for Oxbridge, in one year then you'd only lose a year of your finance entitlement (essentially, the gift year). If you take 60 credits a year (which is recommended, and for some subjects, required) then you would have to pay the first year's tuition fees of your Oxbridge degree yourself. If you don't have to work it is doable, for everyone else, it isn't.
 
 
 
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