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Cambridge comes LAST in Equality Rankings. Hull is #1 watch

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    http://www.hepi.ac.uk/2018/04/05/5576/

    HEPI (Higher Education Policy Institution) is today publishing a new Policy Note, Benchmarking widening participation: how should we measure and report progress?, written by Professor Iain Martin, Vice-Chancellor at Anglia Ruskin University, which looks at each university’s success in widening participation and ensuring access to people from all backgrounds.


    In it is this rather curious chart ranking the universities using their Gini coefficient (based on POLAR measurements) to essentially look at which university does the most for "widening participation".

    The Gini coefficient ranges from 0 to 1, with 0 representing perfect equality and 1 representing perfect inequality.




    The four page document here gives more details about the reasoning behind it, and the findings
    http://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/upl...tion-FINAL.pdf
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    My personal take on this:

    Of course Oxford and Cambridge are going to end up at the bottom of things like this, I've personally seen Cambridge's outreach efforts and it's an uphill struggle to get "working class" students to even apply, never mind get into these institutions, over more socially mobile young people.

    One thing I'd note is that from what I can see, there's no groupings of particular kinds of universities in certain places. Of course you're going to get Russel Groups down the bottom end, it's logical for them to *generally* be older institutions and have a more prestigious image which will have developed from a tradition of well-off students (talking generally only). That doesn't mean it's okay to see figures looking at poor levels of widening participation, but it doesn't make it very surprising either.

    Another important thing widening participation, or widening access, doesn't look at what those students do once they're in university. How they interact, how social they are (generally) and how well they achieve academically. Because that is often overlooked and widening achievement, to postgrad or to the workplace is something which needs looking at more than this.


    As with any measurements in education, the way these things are calculated is never going to be wholly on point, and my making this thread has no bearing over whether I believe the figures to be accurate.
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    Some further data relating to POLAR can be found in the attached spreadsheet.
    Attached Files
  1. File Type: xlsx SFR39-2017-MainTables.xlsx (119.7 KB, 20 views)
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    Honestly this doesn't come as a surprise.

    Speaking as a member of the working class, I often felt that the culture associated with these universities was alien to me, even though I was familiar with aspects of it and had a few friends that went to schools such as these, I often felt that I would not belong in such an institution. Nor would I be able to "fit in" and socialize with others if I had been given a place.
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    (Original post by Dodo0099)
    Honestly this doesn't come as a surprise.

    Speaking as a member of the working class, I often felt that the culture associated with these universities was alien to me, even though I was familiar with aspects of it and had a few friends that went to schools such as these, I often felt that I would not belong in such an institution. Nor would I be able to "fit in" and socialize with others if I had been given a place.
    Thought I'd say that as another member of the working class, the feeling is not the same. I'm proud to say I received an offer from Cambridge and that it is possible for people like me and from my background to get there, and to institutions like it.

    Does it happen enough? No. But it does happen and when I visited and stayed there I didn't feel put off. University choices are personal to each individual.
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    I'm guessing the Scottish unis are quite low because it's free for EU students to study at them so they make up a greater proportion of the population and leave less room for poorer Brits?
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    (Original post by Exceptional)
    I'm guessing the Scottish unis are quite low because it's free for EU students to study at them so they make up a greater proportion of the population and leave less room for poorer Brits?
    Free places are capped at Scottish universities so no I don't think it's that.
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    Cambridge is looking after it's position in the league tables. I can't blame them. It's how their business case works.

    There are other universities, no? Why can't people just apply to those instead? I've toured a few by now to know that their position in the league tables isn't necessarily reflective of the teaching standard you receive. It depends what faculty you're applying to as well, and old established universities have a inherent advantage in the league tables over younger smaller ones, that are not necessarily much worse at all. Only their brand name is less known, and so costs less money. They can't afford to be so choosy because of it, so will take anyone on board that meets their minimum criteria.
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    I'm surprised that there's not a single Russell Group university in the top half of the table. It also seems that as you go down the group, the general entry requirements increase.

    Only 24 per cent of students in receipt of free school meals at age 15 make it to higher education by the age of 19, and in the South West and East Midlands the figure is just 15 per cent.
    I think the cause is quite simple. The working class students in deprived areas aren't likely to have parents who have gone through post-16 and then graduated university. They are born into an upbringing surrounded by the working class who aren't university graduates, so in a way you can see that they would have to 'break the mould' in trying to pursue a university degree. Their aims aren't very high compared to the middle class as there is less expected of them, so naturally they apply to the universities that seem easier to get into.

    This is in contrast to the middle class who are bought up in an environment of university graduates and academics who have had high targets their whole life. They're inherently pushed to follow the trend and pursue places into the top universities (not just any) across the country, which would compliment the fact that people in areas of high participation attend the top unis. Couple this with private/grammar schooling for some and it's not hard to see why there is this trend.

    ---

    In terms of what the unis themselves can do, I don't think there is much. Schemes that offer reduced offers from those in deprived areas are kind of counter-intuitive as it doesn't promote them to work harder or aim higher, it just tells them "Hey your area is deprived, but don't worry, we'll reduce your offer so you don't need to meet our academic standards and we can improve our equality statistics too!".

    Secondary schools need to really push the importance of higher education for all and give the working class students the drive that the middle class already have.

    [This is coming from somebody in a poor working class household, from one of the most deprived areas in the UK. I see from first hand experience that in deprived secondary schools students are just pushed to get 5 GCSEs and nothing more. Thankfully I have the most wonderful parents who have promoted learning and pushed me to aim high from a young age, but unfortunately not many children have that.]
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    (Original post by 04MR17)
    My personal take on this:

    Of course Oxford and Cambridge are going to end up at the bottom of things like this, I've personally seen Cambridge's outreach efforts and it's an uphill struggle to get "working class" students to even apply, never mind get into these institutions, over more socially mobile young people.

    One thing I'd note is that from what I can see, there's no groupings of particular kinds of universities in certain places. Of course you're going to get Russel Groups down the bottom end, it's logical for them to *generally* be older institutions and have a more prestigious image which will have developed from a tradition of well-off students (talking generally only). That doesn't mean it's okay to see figures looking at poor levels of widening participation, but it doesn't make it very surprising either.

    Another important thing widening participation, or widening access, doesn't look at what those students do once they're in university. How they interact, how social they are (generally) and how well they achieve academically. Because that is often overlooked and widening achievement, to postgrad or to the workplace is something which needs looking at more than this.


    As with any measurements in education, the way these things are calculated is never going to be wholly on point, and my making this thread has no bearing over whether I believe the figures to be accurate.
    It doesn't matter how hard they try to get working class students to apply, they are still indiscriminate in their admissions process. From my experience, many students from state schools are poorly prepared for the interview and their own admissions exam even if their academic grades are close to perfect.

    Oxbridge dont really give a crap about "widening participation", they'll throw a bit of money at the problem and maybe send some of their students around the country to give pointless talks, but the crux of the problem is that their admissions process is systematically biased towards private schools and grammar schools who care a lot more about number of oxbridge admissions and use their alumni network and expertise to give those students a big advantage. And oxbridge are never going to compromise that.
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    (Original post by Exceptional)
    I'm guessing the Scottish unis are quite low because it's free for EU students to study at them so they make up a greater proportion of the population and leave less room for poorer Brits?
    Not EU students scottish students.. POLAR doesn't apply to EU people.

    In Scotland, there is a pretty steep difference in access to HE from the lower end of the socio-economic scale than the middle to upper end. Even at not great or "prestigious" universities, the people far more likely to attend are from higher economic stratas. This is exacerbated when you realise only less than 5% of scottish domiciled school leavers study outside of scotland for university.

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    The gini coefficient for the UK is 0.34 I think? So these are pretty reflective of that. It's a shame though that the top unis that could provide the most opportunity for social mobility is still very unequal. It looks like out of the "good" unis, York, Leeds and Nottingham to name a few are the only ones doing well.

    Oxbridge are still gonna pretend that their engines of social mobility ofc, and their fanboys are going to continue to preach and defend that lie.
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    CountBrandenburg, as the Education secretary in the Model House of Commons, do you have any thoughts on this?:curious:
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    You need to READ the report that goes with this graph - this isn't a 'my Uni is better than your Uni' moment, or a chance to bash the RG etc Unis.

    Think carefully about the issues it raises, such as 'can Unis asking for really high grades ever have as wide a range of students as those accepting lowest grades', and 'why are we striving for this anyway when actually those 'other' Universities might be more appropriate for those students in terms of course/comforts/social confidence etc'. And - shouldnt we be encouraging more 'non-WP' students to go to Hull rather than encouraging 'WPs' to go to Cambridge' if we really want to even up the social mix?

    Its a very short report - read it, and think about it.
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    (Original post by returnmigrant)
    You need to READ the report that goes with this graph - this isn't a 'my Uni is better than your Uni' moment, or a chance to bash the RG etc Unis.
    I have done and I agree.
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    Alot of the problem comes down to the mindset of the students. Those who come from a poorer background don't have the role models or advisors in their lives that will motivate them to get in to top institutions.

    Those from privileged backgrounds are surrounded by people who go to top universities as the norm. They have access to professionals in all sorts of jobs to give them the insights, advice and contacts they need.

    Alot of elitist universities just tell disadvantaged kids they can do it in an hour session. What they need is tangible examples and role models who can mentor these students and raise their aspirations to make a long term difference
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    (Original post by 04MR17)
    CountBrandenburg, as the Education secretary in the Model House of Commons, do you have any thoughts on this?:curious:
    I thank the right honourable member, Secretary of State for Infrastructure, for asking for my views on this. Oxbridge as you yourself have said is always more likely to turn up on the bottom of such lists, and even whilst quite the way off from Hull’s position on the list, is not truly unequal. Truly, it’s very unlikely universities will ever achieve perfect equality on tests like this, that’s unreasonable, but it is undeniable that universities like Oxbridge and Russell group universities have been seen as more accessible than they would have been in decades past. Indeed, how universities tackle acting upon data like this should be left to individual universities, and having looked into how the bottom universities on this acknowledge this difference and advertise in a way to make it clear that they are inclusive institutions does give hope that over time this gap may close
    Thanks 04MR17
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    The problem with the coverage of this is that it is basically blaming universities for things which are often not their fault. I'm not saying the report necessarily does that, but inevitably that has been a lot of people's takeaway.

    Is there any doubt poorer kids get worse (on average) grades, or make academically sub-optimal choices (like BTECs)? We can only talk about this in terms of generalisations but: schools in poor areas are normally worse than those in good areas (even ignoring private vs. state); poor children are less likely to live in an environment where educational attainment is valued or expected; they are unlikely to have family members with much knowledge of how higher education works; they may face other challenges in their lives which make focussing fully on academics impossible; and so on.

    To turn around and find fault for these problems with academically selective institutions is just an exercise in blame-shifting.
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    Universities cannot 'make' applicants apply to them - nor can they make them go Firm. It clearly isnt 'all the University's fault'.

    There are a thousand reasons behind each application choice and subsequent Firm choice - never mind the 'get the grades' moment in August. To assume that its all down to the Universities to fix social-inequality in terms of 'who goes where' - or that they are entirely responsible for the eventual decisions by thousands of individual teenagers is clearly a nonsense.

    Also, why is it assumed that a place at Cambridge is 'better'? Better for whom?
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    (Original post by returnmigrant)
    Universities cannot 'make' applicants apply to them - nor can they make them go Firm.
    With the amount being invested into marketing, they are trying their best to do so (not for all, but for plenty of universities) - and that's only post marketisation I reckon.

    (Original post by returnmigrant)
    It clearly isnt 'all the University's fault'.
    I've not seen anyone here saying that.

    (Original post by returnmigrant)
    Also, why is it assumed that a place at Cambridge is 'better'? Better for whom?
    I think that's a much broader question without such a clear answer.
 
 
 
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