Time to privilege talent over luck 2

September 28, 2007

Sir Peter Lampl calls it a "sad waste of talent" that many straight-A state educated students tend not to enter Oxbridge and other traditional universities. What patronising nonsense. Why can't he accept that this may be their choice? There are plenty of excellent degrees offered by universities other than his "top" few.

In trying to understand student choices, subject mix and geography are two possible explanatory factors, but anecdotal evidence suggests a more fundamental reason. Other universities are widely perceived by students as modern, friendly, supportive and democratic - rather like extensions of good comprehensives or sixth-form colleges - whereas traditional universities such as Oxbridge are seen as formal, old-fashioned, structured and hierarchical - just like independent schools. So it is not surprising that the former tends to attract state-educated students far more than the latter, and vice versa.

Mike Wright
Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster

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