Wider debate 1

September 29, 2006

I was interested to see so many letters responding to my opinion piece and the story about widening participation ("Experts: access policy futile" and Opinion, September 15, Letters, September 22).

Unfortunately, none of the writers seems to have read the research, and all of them mistook a conditional statement for a policy recommendation.

The dilemma I posed was that if prior qualifications such as A levels were not merited by the talent and efforts of those who have them, then it would be unfair to use them for selection to higher education. On the other hand, if the qualifications are merited, then we ought to be more accepting of the stratified higher education population that results.

Either way, widening participation policies face a problem. I did not propose a way out but quoted the writings of an academic who wonders whether we will eventually come to view selection by qualification in the same way as we view selection by class or ethnicity.

To answer Jane Hutton - my grant income and publications, rather than my pitiful A-level results, were used for my appointment at York.

Stephen Gorard
York University

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