Too comfortable to change

August 7, 2008

Mary Evans is right about widening participation and it is refreshing to read such a clear analysis of an obvious problem (Opinion, 31 July). The University of Cambridge constantly talks about raising the aspirations of potential applicants from under-represented groups and then wonders why its initiatives have negligible effects. Not only have its approaches historically been patronising, but also in two decades of working for the university, including in admissions, I have never once heard anyone question whether the problem might be the class culture of the university and its colleges. There are too many comfortable with the way things are to ever achieve any change from within the university.

In the meantime, even if potential applicants do gain an equally good or better education in other institutions, it remains a national tragedy that a significant chunk of the nation's higher education resources continue to be squandered on a privileged few.

Name and address withheld.

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