Contextual analysis 2

March 11, 2010

Bahram Bekhradnia suggests that we don't give preferential treatment to state school applicants over independent ones because we are terrified of the Daily Mail ("Mind the gap").

The charge shows how little Bekhradnia knows about Durham University or its admissions policies. We don't give preferential treatment to anyone.

Admissions are never formulaic but rather are made by the academics who will teach the students, who thereby have a vested interest in admitting those they judge to have the greatest merit and potential.

We do not engage in "social engineering". We simply want the brightest and best students with the greatest merit and potential, irrespective of their background. We do not make lower offers depending on applicants' school type or socio-economic background.

Routinely we have to choose between candidates with three A-grade A levels, and our academic admissions selectors use nine elements to make their decisions, each one published on our website and each contributing to individual decisions. Our interest is in producing excellent graduates after three or four years, not merely rewarding those who obtain excellent A-level results.

As for the comment that we are terrified of the Daily Mail, our senate is fiercely independent and is not about to be told by Bekhradnia or anyone else who we should or should not admit. Committed as we are to fair and transparent admissions policies, such decisions rightly rest with our senate. Our responsibility is to our prospective students and staff.

Anthony Forster, Pro vice-chancellor (learning and teaching), Durham University.

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