Origins as important as A levels

April 24, 1998

UNIVERSITIES should take account of where applicants have been to school and not just the qualifications they have achieved, higher education minister Tessa Blackstone said last week.

Speaking to delegates at the Higher Education Funding Council for England annual conference, she said institutions could do more to encourage a broader range of people. "Are they giving enough support to students with non-traditional qualifications?" she asked, "Are they assessing candidates' potential and not just their experience and qualifications?" She added later: "It requires people looking at the schools they go to as well. We know some schools are better at these things than others."

Roger Clark, vice-chairman of the academic registrars' admissions group, said: "It's what we have always claimed to do. But you get into trouble over it once you get too specific because independent and grammar schools say you are discriminating against their pupils. It's actually quite difficult to assess potential. A levels and GCSEs are still the best predictors we have."

Conference details, page 5

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