"Lower bar for poor, DfES told" (October 20) highlights that "universities should offer places to 'disadvantaged' students whose exam results are up to two grades lower than the minimum course requirements".
Since 2003-04, St George's, University of London, has recognised educational disadvantage with a formula for reduced grade requirements among medical applicants. The AAB student from a good-performing school is considered on an equal footing academically with the BBC applicant from a poor-performing school (where BBC is more than 60 per cent higher than the school's average performance). Both candidates would have an equally strong case for being offered an interview.
This system does not replace the individual input of academics; it augments the selection process by ensuring able students from disadvantaged backgrounds are not discounted too early in the process.
So far in this five-year pilot, more than 10 per cent of those joining the course have done so through this process. We can see that it works to widen participation and will soon know whether this measure of potential has helped us to select students who will go on to make a valuable contribution to the National Health Service.
St George's, University of London