Gambling on a tick in the right boxes

September 8, 1995

Mohammed Al-Mousawi (THES, September 1) may have revealed prejudice in the medical school admissions procedure but it is not linked to race.

Gareth Harrison (predicted four As and one B) was offered a place by Clare College, Cambridge. Like Mr Al-Mousawi's son he was rejected, without interview, by all the other universities to whom he had applied to read medicine. Gareth gained four As (in maths, chemistry, music and general studies) and one B (in biology); his STEP grades did not come up to scratch and so Clare College could not confirm his offer.

In Clearing all but two medical schools were full. Edinburgh and Dundee agreed to include him in their reserve lists but to no avail despite supporting letters emphasising his all-round personal, academic and musical excellence.

Gareth (four As and a B, but music and general studies do not count so he only has two relevant As and a B) now has to go through the system again. He, Ahmed and others of their calibre, have to gamble this September ("please advise your candidates to get their applications in as early as possible") on which names to enter in the UCAS boxes. That decision, not the predicted grades, and certainly not the achievements, will decide their future it seems. Is Mr Mousawi's prejudice theory really a conspiracy, or just another example of the inadequacy of the present university admissions system?

MIRIAM STANTON Principal Bead College, Billingham

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