Thought for the day: "Solutions are not the answer" - Richard Nixon

Sunday, September 12, 2004


Government to make HE announcement: run for the hills!

This coming week the government will announce its plans relating to the application system for Higher Education. As a past and current student I naturally get a bit nervous whenever the words 'government', 'higher education' and 'plans' appear in the same sentence since such announcements tend to involve the screwing over of large sections of the student populace. In this case at least financial screwing over is not involved: the belief is that the government will announce a shift to a 'post qualification system', which is to say that you get your A levels, and then you apply to universities in a slimmed down process.

I have to admit that there seems to be a lot about this idea in principle: the UCAS system of 6 applications is quite bureaucratic, and since there is no advantage to not using all 6, often wastes the universities’ time. A post-qualification system might also encourage students who got better grades than expected, particularly from state schools, to apply for more prestigious universities, including Oxbridge.

It isn't all peaches and cream however: my major concern is that the system may prove to be another part of this government apparent obsession with test results - this could partly be seen with the Laura Spence affair where it was taken as read by the government that there was no possible reason not to let someone with 5 As into Oxford, other than discrimination: never mind personal statements, interview process etc. A slimmed down process will provide much less time for interviews and force universities to make more decisions based purely on grades. Even if some or all universities are able to continue with an interview process I fear we will see a lot more Laura Spence type situations - this person has 4 As and didn't get in, this one has 3As and a B and did. Obviously it is a huge issue that people shouldn't be discriminated against because of their background, but trying to do this by focusing entirely on the exam results, and allowing less time for other assessment of academic potential, seems to me to be a bad way of going about it.

Of course the government may not be moving this way: they may be looking purely at slimming down the bureaucracy, making application decisions easier, and encouraging more Oxbridge applications from able state schoolers, whilst still allowing for a full interview process and not attempting to attack universities for making decisions based on factors others than grades. It's just that their track record doesn't exactly fill me with confidence...


you are tiberius
Tiberius was the second emperor of Rome. His
mother wanted it more than he was. He had to
leave his wife to marry Julia, the daughter of
Augustus. He never really cared much for
politics. Later on in life, he moved to the
island of Capri, turning it into an island of
depravity and sex.

What Julio-Claudian Roman Emperor are you?
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My inner child is ten years old today

My inner child is ten years old!

The adult world is pretty irrelevant to me. Whether
I'm off on my bicycle (or pony) exploring, lost
in a good book, or giggling with my best
friend, I live in a world apart, one full of
adventure and wonder and other stuff adults
don't understand.

How Old is Your Inner Child?
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No animals were harmed during the making of this blog. Apart from any cats kicked by the author whilst frustrated at his inability to work out this bloody hmtl gunk.

With the exception of the author, this blog does not contain any nuts.

As a firm believer in the right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression, the author would like it to be known that if anything whatsoever in this blog happens to offend somebody, he is happy not only to retract it but also to deny ever having written it.

This blog can help weight loss only as part of a calorie controlled diet.

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