More oiks at Oxford

March 21, 2003

So the university access regulator has been set up to leaven the effete gene pool of Hooray Henries and Henriettas in our top universities with the odd bit of rough. Who cares?

Those who've spent good money buying their kids academic privilege for a start, not to mention our journalistic elite and academics already exercised over new ways to measure "potential".

Recent education policies have been hostile to inclusion. They've made the exam rat race start sooner in schools. While starving them of funds, they've disparaged the academic credentials of post-92 universities responsible for huge strides towards the access target. They've put disincentives in the way of the excluded to lessen demand for university places, while taking the cap off recruitment in pre-92 universities undermines the viability of all but the most utilitarian courses in post-92 institutions. They've cut funding and delegitimised research in post-92 universities in the white paper.

The clear intention is to reinforce the "binary divide" between former polytechnics and pre-92 universities and to defeat the access project. This is aided by a failure to see that "Access = our getting another 10 per cent of the age cohort into university" is quite distinct from "Access = oiks at Oxford".

Roger Harris
Formerly campus dean of students
Middlesex University

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