Personal is political

October 24, 2013

The Pearson Think Tank recommends the abolition of Ucas personal statements on the grounds that not everybody makes a good job of them (“Statements of disapproval”, News, 10 October).

Where does one start with such a poor argument? Perhaps the most egregious error is the implication that “public school personal statements powerful - state school and college ones useless”. Are the admissions tutors interviewed by the thinktank such novices that they have never spotted a formulaic piece of ghostwriting from the careers tutor in a fee-paying school? Have they never seen a well-crafted piece from a state school applicant? What do they think they are being paid for?

There is a corrosive constituency within higher education and self-eyeballing institutions such as the thinktank that consider issues about personal statements without referencing (let alone directly engaging with) the people in schools and colleges who write them - or to put it another way, their customers.

Let that constituency look to its leaders for an example: even Michael Gove has not yet decided that since English is no doubt taught more effectively in some schools than in others, he should eliminate the subject from the curriculum altogether.

I would suggest to the Pearson Think Tank (and those it interviewed) that the answer is to help students (and the staff who support them) to write personal statements properly. Let’s see some pressure heaped on politicians of all stripes to restore proper advice and guidance for all school and college students, plus relevant, low-cost training and support for the staff who help them. I believe it is called “levelling up”.

Peter Millen
up2uni Community Interest Company

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry