Cambridge ponders taping of interviews as more parents complain

January 16, 2004

Videotaping or recording interviews may be the only way to protect tutors against accusations of bias from failed students and their families, according to the master of the Cambridge college embroiled in the latest admissions row.

Barry Everitt, master of Downing College, Cambridge University, said the day when recording of interviews routinely took place was now "appreciably closer".

Professor Everitt wrote to The THES in response to last week's article on the "bullying and intimidating" technique allegedly used at an interview.

The letter, which was also signed by senior tutor Graham Virgo and admissions tutor Paul Millett, "utterly rejected" the claims made by Oxford University admissions tutor Dawn Chatty regarding her daughter, who had an interview at Downing.

Two more academics have since written to highlight their daughter's "similarly disheartening experience" while being interviewed at another Cambridge college.

The couple had notified the college that their daughter was dyslexic, yet she was asked to read an unseen text and point out and correct spelling and grammatical errors. They said this was "hardly an insightful and sensitive way of assessing the intellectual abilities of a dyslexic candidate".

The couple, who would not be named, said: "We are not questioning the outcome and decision of the college, but do feel that the format and content of the interview was inadequate and inappropriate."

Despite the unambiguous evidence that recording interviews would provide, a spokesperson for Cambridge said there were no plans to ask colleges to do so.

An Oxford spokesman said it was not something on its agenda but added that there was "no set opinion".

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