Choice cut (1 of 2)

November 25, 2010

David Eastwood asks "Who's afraid of student choice?" (11 November) and accuses the academy of "timidity". But the Browne Review designates "priority subjects" without regard to student choice or employability, and says: "The role of better guidance will be to encourage talented pupils from all backgrounds to make more applications...in particular to selective institutions...there is an issue of aspiration, as well as attainment."

So today's applicants don't know what's good for them because if they did, they would apply in greater numbers to elite universities.

Lord Browne seeks to substitute his own judgement for student choice, but we know that many students from under-represented groups understand exactly what will suit them best. "They" are misinformed; "you" are afraid; "we", the Browne panel, know what's best - letting students choose what we think they should. A million students can be wrong.

Who's afraid and of which choices?

Rob Cuthbert, Professor of higher education management, University of the West of England.

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