Time to privilege talent over luck 1

September 28, 2007

Yet another study, this time by the Sutton Trust, demonstrating that top universities tend to select students from elite (and mainly private) schools ("Elite few still fill top universities", September 21).

This outcome has been well known at least since the 1970 report of the Public Schools Commission, and is usually explained in two ways. At an institutional level, the universities may be biased in favour of particular schools. At a cultural level, students from some schools may lack the cultural capital or orientations valued by elite universities.

One way to solve this problem would simply be to omit personal information, including school attended, personal statement, reference and place of residence, from the information sent to the university by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. After all, we are used to assessing examination scripts without reference to these details. If universities wanted to run additional selection procedures, such as personal interviews or further examinations, they would be free to do this, provided only that the procedures were anonymised.

This wouldn't cost a great deal and would enable us to use the pool of available talent more effectively.

Over to you, Mr Brown (and Ucas).

Peter Taylor-Gooby
Professor of social policy
Kent University

Please login or register to read this article.

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

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

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Viewed

The University of Oxford is top in a list of the best universities in the UK, which includes institutions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

26 September

Most Commented

Most universities still rely on exams and assessed essays to grade their students. But as the fourth industrial revolution, employability and student satisfaction all rise up the agenda, many experts are suggesting that assessment needs to much more closely resemble real-world tasks. Anna McKie marks the arguments   

23 May