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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    I went to Oxford when there were at least 6 application systems running simultaneously. I did the fourth term entrance exam. Although those doing the 7th term exam sat the same papers they were marked to a more rigorous standard. That isn't surprising, the 7th term candidates had a year longer schooling on the material. There was no sense of resentment over this, nor over the fact that there were candidates who didn't sit the exam some of whom had (for the time) challenging A level offers of AAB or ABB and whilst others had EE offers.
    No, but there are some differences.

    (1) All of the systems you are talking about were still based on an assessment of merit at the time at which the candidate presented himself. That is entirely different from a quota system which operates no matter how strong, or weak, a pool of candidates the protected class presents.

    (2) You are talking about a time when there was, as you say, quite a variety of different ways to make it in. There is now one way: competition through the standard application process. This makes adding a separate means of entry now, as opposed to then, a quite different prospect, especially in terms of perception.

    (3) You are talking about a time at which, I imagine, there was a much more laid back attitude to such matters. We now occupy an age in which there is a much stronger emphasis on merit and its rigorous assessment. For this reason too, adding a separate, special means of entry now is a different prospect. Indeed I doubt whether such an eclectic system as you describe could operate today.
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    (Original post by TimmonaPortella)
    No, but there are some differences.

    (1) All of the systems you are talking about were still based on an assessment of merit at the time at which the candidate presented himself. That is entirely different from a quota system which operates no matter how strong, or weak, a pool of candidates the protected class presents.

    (2) You are talking about a time when there was, as you say, quite a variety of different ways to make it in. There is now one way: competition through the standard application process. This makes adding a separate means of entry now, as opposed to then, a quite different prospect, especially in terms of perception.

    (3) You are talking about a time at which, I imagine, there was a much more laid back attitude to such matters. We now occupy an age in which there is a much stronger emphasis on merit and its rigorous assessment. For this reason too, adding a separate, special means of entry now is a different prospect. Indeed I doubt whether such an eclectic system as you describe could operate today.
    I think there is some force in what you say. My own view is that quotas to take part in the assessment process would be viable but not quotas for places.

    I also think that given the clear differences between schools in exam performance Oxbridge should move away from any idea of a single conditional offer at A level for all candidates. If you think that A levels adequate evaluate the merit of candidates, why all the interviews and tests and if you don't think that the logic behind a single conditional offer disappears. The only reason for conditional offer at all is to keep each candidate working at his or her school work.
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    (Original post by the bear)
    if you wanted a Scholarship or Exhibition you had to do the entrance papers ?
    Yes, but I can't say £40 a year (I received an exhibition in my second year) made a great deal of difference to my life, particularly at the cost of £20 for the gown.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    Yes, but I can't say £40 a year (I received an exhibition in my second year) made a great deal of difference to my life, particularly at the cost of £20 for the gown.
    you have risen in my estimation Sir !

    :congrats:
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    I think there is some force in what you say. My own view is that quotas to take part in the assessment process would be viable but not quotas for places.

    I also think that given the clear differences between schools in exam performance Oxbridge should move away from any idea of a single conditional offer at A level for all candidates. If you think that A levels adequate evaluate the merit of candidates, why all the interviews and tests and if you don't think that the logic behind a single conditional offer disappears. The only reason for conditional offer at all is to keep each candidate working at his or her school work.
    I'd be less strongly opposed to that, although I can't imagine it making much difference at Cambridge given only very weak candidates are rejected without interview anyway, and doesn't Oxford use admissions tests to select for interview?

    Re conditional offers, yeah, I agree with that. It's worth noting that conditional offers at present aren't applied strictly uniformly. I remember someone who applied in my cycle got a maths offer of A*A*A*, with some unusually high requirement in STEP too. I've also seen quite substantial clemency exercised with missed offers from candidates from weaker state schools. So your proposal here isn't particularly radical.
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    (Original post by TimmonaPortella)
    I'd be less strongly opposed to that, although I can't imagine it making much difference at Cambridge given only very weak candidates are rejected without interview anyway, and doesn't Oxford use admissions tests to select for interview?

    Re conditional offers, yeah, I agree with that. It's worth noting that conditional offers at present aren't applied strictly uniformly. I remember someone who applied in my cycle got a maths offer of A*A*A*, with some unusually high requirement in STEP too. I've also seen quite substantial clemency exercised with missed offers from candidates from weaker state schools. So your proposal here isn't particularly radical.
    The key problem, which I think everyone identifies, is getting people to apply. If the comp kid believes all the places go to clones of BoJo, he may well not apply. If he believes there is an interview quota essentially reserved for people like him, he may do so.

    Variable offers have almost entirely been eliminated with the increased involvement of the academic departments in selecting candidates. The relative power of the colleges to the university over admissions has been waning for many years. I always think that silly money offers of the type you describe were the result of personality politics within the university. X insists that a candidate Y doesn't want is given an offer, so the offer is pitched at a level Y doesn't think the candidate will meet.

    The problem with leniency is that it doesn't help with applications. It merely addresses the fact that the colleges have very little margin for error over their finances. If the sums work on 110 undergraduates, they cannot take 105 or 115.
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    (Original post by TimmonaPortella)
    I remember someone who applied in my cycle got a maths offer of A*A*A*, with some unusually high requirement in STEP too.
    For maths at Cambridge, A*A* in M/FM is essentially a formality (it's extremely rare that anyone with a realistic chance of getting 11 in STEP is going to have issues getting these grades). So it's really only one A* that "you have to work hard for".

    Not saying it's not a high offer, but it's not as crazy high as it sounds.

    Worst case the STEP offer was SS, which is certainly harsh (but not unheard of), however:

    I've also seen quite substantial clemency exercised with missed offers from candidates from weaker state schools. So your proposal here isn't particularly radical.
    It's reasonably common to get in having missed your STEP grades (I think about 30% do so). From a college's point of view, it's nice to set the offer high and be able to do a bit of final 'pick-and-choose' once the dust settles on the STEP results. So a harsh STEP offer may not be as bad as it sounds either.
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    The problem (bad schools) should be treated, rather than the symptom (socioeconomic imbalance at top unis)
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    The key problem, which I think everyone identifies, is getting people to apply. If the comp kid believes all the places go to clones of BoJo, he may well not apply. If he believes there is an interview quota essentially reserved for people like him, he may do so.

    ...

    The problem with leniency is that it doesn't help with applications. It merely addresses the fact that the colleges have very little margin for error over their finances. If the sums work on 110 undergraduates, they cannot take 105 or 115.
    I take the point, but if the candidate is sufficiently informed to know that there is a quota for people in his position to participate in the application process then he might also be expected to know the details I mentioned.

    I grant that leniency doesn't help applications. I was agreeing with you, just making the point that it doesn't require such a large change in approach to get us where you want us to be.

    (Original post by DFranklin)
    For maths at Cambridge, A*A* in M/FM is essentially a formality (it's extremely rare that anyone with a realistic chance of getting 11 in STEP is going to have issues getting these grades). So it's really only one A* that "you have to work hard for".

    Not saying it's not a high offer, but it's not as crazy high as it sounds.

    Worst case the STEP offer was SS, which is certainly harsh (but not unheard of), however:

    It's reasonably common to get in having missed your STEP grades (I think about 30% do so). From a college's point of view, it's nice to set the offer high and be able to do a bit of final 'pick-and-choose' once the dust settles on the STEP results. So a harsh STEP offer may not be as bad as it sounds either.
    Hmm, there was something funny about it, I can't remember exactly what. It might have been that the candidate only had AS level further maths. I'm fairly sure there was an A* attaching to more than one non-maths subject anyway. I think the STEP offer was S1, possibly SS; don't know how strictly it was enforced because I don't know how much she missed it by.

    Anyway my point was just that they do sometimes set variable targets.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    The key problem, which I think everyone identifies, is getting people to apply. If the comp kid believes all the places go to clones of BoJo, he may well not apply. If he believes there is an interview quota essentially reserved for people like him, he may do so.
    Pardon me if this has been debunked earlier in the thread (I kind of lost track), but my understanding is that the discrepancy between number of quintile-5 applicants and the number of quntile-1 applicants closely follows the proportion getting AAA at A-level.

    (Q5 applicant is roughly 9.5 times more likely to get AAA, 10.5 times more likely to apply). [From: http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/22198/1/HEFE2015_03.pdf]

    Note also that when you track this to getting offers (acceptance), the ratio rises to 14.6 (15.1). [From: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam....014_cycle.pdf]

    From my own experience, I'd say the inability of comprehensive schools (particularly in low performing areas) to push students to the necessary standards (*), and also to prepare them for the application process sufficiently in advance are the two biggest issues (**).

    (*) From what I saw (in a reasonably decent comprehensive), there was far too much complacency that "oh, you're brilliant, you'll get in. And they test for raw ability, there's no real point in preparing".
    (**) I think it's relatively easy for a high-achiever to 'coast' through the lower 6th, comfortable in the fact they are clearly a way ahead of anyone else in their class. September in application year is not an ideal time to be realising this.

    <SlightlyOTRant>: TSR's promoting of the Oxford MAT prep test the day before the exam is more than slightly ridiculous to my mind. How much prep can you do 24 hours before the exam...? :rolleyes:
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    (Original post by unknown_usr)
    The problem (bad schools) should be treated, rather than the symptom (socioeconomic imbalance at top unis)
    (a) It may not be treatable or not treatable in a way that it is politically acceptable. School success is heavily related to parental commitment to education. Improving schools requires committed parents to be trapped with poor schools. That is why education in London has recovered from its parlous position yet schools in the poorer parts of rural England have not. Faced with a severe shortage of good state schools in inner London, a severe shortage of day places in London independent schools and an unwillingness to send children to board in provincial independent schools, committed parents have had no option but to put effort into improving sink schools.

    (b) The timescales for doing anything worthwhile means many cohorts of children are left in the mire.

    Essentially "fix some other problem" is in reality always an excuse for doing nothing. "I am sorry Mr Chamberlain, you shouldn't have let the Germans re-arm, we can't go to war" isn't an answer.
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    (Original post by DFranklin)
    Pardon me if this has been debunked earlier in the thread (I kind of lost track), but my understanding is that the discrepancy between number of quintile-5 applicants and the number of quntile-1 applicants closely follows the proportion getting AAA at A-level.

    (Q5 applicant is roughly 9.5 times more likely to get AAA, 10.5 times more likely to apply). [From: http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/22198/1/HEFE2015_03.pdf]

    Note also that when you track this to getting offers (acceptance), the ratio rises to 14.6 (15.1). [From: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam....014_cycle.pdf]

    From my own experience, I'd say the inability of comprehensive schools (particularly in low performing areas) to push students to the necessary standards (*), and also to prepare them for the application process sufficiently in advance are the two biggest issues (**).

    (*) From what I saw (in a reasonably decent comprehensive), there was far too much complacency that "oh, you're brilliant, you'll get in. And they test for raw ability, there's no real point in preparing".
    (**) I think it's relatively easy for a high-achiever to 'coast' through the lower 6th, comfortable in the fact they are clearly a way ahead of anyone else in their class. September in application year is not an ideal time to be realising this.

    <SlightlyOTRant>: TSR's promoting of the Oxford MAT prep test the day before the exam is more than slightly ridiculous to my mind. How much prep can you do 24 hours before the exam...? :rolleyes:
    I don't think it has been said. I suspect there is some truth in it but I think the Jude the Obscure, "Oxford isn't for the likes of thee" approach is more common.

    They may morph from one to the other. How many Oxbridge "shoo ins" have to fail before a teaching staff becomes disillusioned with applying
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    I don't think it has been said. I suspect there is some truth in it but I think the Jude the Obscure, "Oxford isn't for the likes of thee" approach is more common.
    It's not just Oxbridge - there's a strong north/south divide in university. Moving "down south" for any university is tricky (I've seen students tweeting this week about how they're struggling with some aspects of moving from the north to the south that are exactly the sort of thing that put off lots of students).

    Universities in the south are a lot more regional than most people imagine (look at Bristol's intake map http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007786.pdf or UEA http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007789.pdf or Surrey http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007160.pdf or Southampton http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007158.pdf or Reading http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007802.pdf compared to Leeds http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007795.pdf (or any midlands/northern university)) - ONS did a series of reports about how students move south > north for university and then move back (but not the other way round)
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    (Original post by PQ)
    It's not just Oxbridge - there's a strong north/south divide in university. Moving "down south" for any university is tricky (I've seen students tweeting this week about how they're struggling with some aspects of moving from the north to the south that are exactly the sort of thing that put off lots of students).

    Universities in the south are a lot more regional than most people imagine (look at Bristol's intake map http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007786.pdf or UEA http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007789.pdf or Surrey http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007160.pdf or Southampton http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007158.pdf or Reading http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007802.pdf compared to Leeds http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007795.pdf (or any midlands/northern university)) - ONS did a series of reports about how students move south > north for university and then move back (but not the other way round)
    None of this data surprises me.

    Students are not as geographically mobile as people think. Those that are more geographically mobile will typically be from higher income families, where the cost of moving is less of a barrier.

    But if you are going to move, moving somewhere that is cheaper or of a similar cost to your local environment is going to be far more attractive than going somewhere far more expensive (unless money is not of a concern to you). Its why universities like Leeds will be more geographically "diverse" than Reading. Plus the brand name of Leeds as a location (e.g. a city) is going to pull in a more diverse group than somewhere like Reading (a town).
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    (Original post by PQ)
    It's not just Oxbridge
    This was my point really - in general people do not like long travel distances, no matter how prestigious the institution. Thanks for the maps, though they are mis-labelled in some cases. And I'm unconvinced that the cost of such travel is much of a factor. The difficulty, tediousness and time are more important, I suspect.
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    (Original post by J-SP)
    Students are not as geographically mobile as people think. Those that are more geographically mobile will typically be from higher income families, where the cost of moving is less of a barrier.
    Are you suggesting that people actually move house to be nearer their child's university? I have never met anyone who has.
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    Are you suggesting that people actually move house to be nearer their child's university? I have never met anyone who has.
    No - you have completely misread that.
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    (Original post by PQ)
    Universities in the south are a lot more regional than most people imagine (look at Bristol's intake map http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007786.pdf or UEA http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007789.pdf or Surrey http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007160.pdf or Southampton http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007158.pdf or Reading http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007802.pdf compared to Leeds http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2...s_10007795.pdf (or any midlands/northern university)) - ONS did a series of reports about how students move south > north for university and then move back (but not the other way round)
    Yes and I'm sure there's a more interactive presention of this data somewhere (i.e. click on a university on a map to see the hot spots for that university) but I can't for the life of me find it now.
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Yes and I'm sure there's a more interactive presention of this data somewhere (i.e. click on a university on a map to see the hot spots for that university) but I can't for the life of me find it now.
    Hefce used to have something but it was based on local authorities and not individual universities. So all HE providers in a LA region were collated.
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    * http://www.hefce.ac.uk/analysis/maps/mobility/

    The regions were v large
 
 
 
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