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    The Times: November 5, 2003

    SO MANY students want to study at Cambridge University that dons may have to abandon its centuries-old pledge to interview every applicant.

    Geoff Parks, director of admissions at the university, said that a sharp rise in candidates this year could force tutors to introduce an initial round of selection based purely on aptitude tests.

    Dr Parks said that the measure would be taken if other ways could not be found to break a growing log jam of candidates. The Oxbridge interview season starts at the end of this term.

    His comments came as dons also expressed disquiet about what they described as the “creeping centralisation” of the admissions process, which they said represented a threat to the historic power of the colleges to select their own students.

    Provisional figures showed that applications to the university rose by 8 per cent this year, on top of two successive years of double-digit increases. Last year, 12,817 applicants competed for 3,404 places.

    Dr Parks told The Times that his college, Jesus, had, like many others, “hit its limit” last year on the number of candidates it could interview under existing arrangements. “I was interviewing for 13 days in a row, from 9am to 6.30pm.”

    The tutors have addressed the problem by starting the interview process earlier and sharing out the responsibilities more evenly among college staff.

    But Dr Parks said that continual increases would force dons to take more radical measures. Separate written tests, introduced this year for medicine, natural sciences, computer science, economics and engineering, are initially due to be used in conjunction with interviews, but could soon evolve into a free-standing form of selection. Those candidates who failed to score high enough marks would not be offered an interview.

    “There is likely to be a gradual increase in the use of aptitude tests, in conjunction with the information contained on the UCAS (application) form. But we would go there with extreme reluctance,” he said.

    Dons have also been discussing whether to abolish the college-based system in favour of a centralised operation. Candidates would be selected by the university and allocated to colleges, in emulation of the system used for graduate students.

    Deana Rankin, director of studies at Girton College, told a reporter from Varsity, the student newspaper, that she was concerned by the discussions. She said that although it would save time, students would get “a raw deal”, because “to remove the Colleges from the equation is to lose a fundamental part of Oxbridge education”.

    Gillian Evans, professor of medieval history at Cambridge, said that there would be huge resistance from colleges, despite the fact that the current system “creates a lottery for the applicants, since some colleges have far more applicants per place than others and students may well not be aware of how they are improving or diminishing their chances, mathematically speaking, by opting for one college rather than another”.

    Dr Parks said, however, that there were no plans for a move towards complete centralisation.
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    "Provisional figures showed that applications to the university rose by 8 per cent this year, on top of two successive years of double-digit increases. Last year, 12,817 applicants competed for 3,404 places."

    this means, 1025 more applicants this year and thats just provisional stats. 13842 chasing 3,404 places, wo.

    still nothing compared to leeds or nottingham, where last year 47000 applications went to each place.
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    <puffs cheeks> So... these changes won't affect us then?
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    (Original post by ZJuwelH)
    <puffs cheeks> So... these changes won't affect us then?
    did u apply at cambridge?
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    (Original post by SaeedRehman)
    did u apply at cambridge?
    Yes.
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    (Original post by ZJuwelH)
    Yes.
    i dont think it will affect this years apps, though it may not be easier than anticipated at first. but thats just my perception on this whole issue.
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    (Original post by SaeedRehman)
    i dont think it will affect this years apps, though it may not be easier than anticipated at first. but thats just my perception on this whole issue.
    Suppose it's going to be harder for me. But then Girton College sucks in the Open applications, which says to me that the "4 applicants per place" ratio was less in Girton. Lucky-ish me.
    No major bummer if I don't get in Cambridge obviously.
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    (Original post by SaeedRehman)
    "Provisional figures showed that applications to the university rose by 8 per cent this year, on top of two successive years of double-digit increases. Last year, 12,817 applicants competed for 3,404 places."

    this means, 1025 more applicants this year and thats just provisional stats. 13842 chasing 3,404 places, wo.

    still nothing compared to leeds or nottingham, where last year 47000 applications went to each place.
    well that's the point, leeds and nottingham don't usually interview, so they don't have the problem Cambridge have.
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    (Original post by DanMushMan)
    well that's the point, leeds and nottingham don't usually interview, so they don't have the problem Cambridge have.
    yes more less promising to interview all students, obviously you would apply if you thought you had a chance.
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    I've applied for Veterinary Science at Cambridge and fortunately got an interview.

    The letter implied that a selection process had taken place.

    My careers adviser had heard that the results of the BMAT test had been used as a discriminator.
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    Is anything like this happening at Oxford?
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    This thread is rather innaproppriately titled. There will still be an interview, but it will only given to people who have passed the initial hurdle of a written test.
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    (Original post by mikesgt2)
    Is anything like this happening at Oxford?
    Oxford don't interview every applicant anyway do they? I though the prospectus said they interviewed around 90%.
 
 
 
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