Readers' reactions

August 25, 2000

Last week in The THES

Bill Stephenson asked whether A-level results are the fairest method of selecting students

Daniel Thomson

PPE student

St Edmunds Hall

Oxford University

There has been much press attention over university admissions policies, particularly at Oxford University. I attended a private school, worked hard and while I concede that my results might not have been as laudable had I attended a state school, I believe that the nature of testing at Oxford would have taken this into account.

The fact that Oxbridge colleges interview every potential candidate shows that mere examination results fail to tell the whole story. None of the other top universities delves as deeply when selecting candidates.

I was offered five other university places and none apart from Oxford insisted on an interview. The point of the Oxbridge selection process is to offer places to students with ability and potential. The methods of achieving this are many and varied but all have one thing in common - they concentrate not on what you know, but on how you think.

So far has the pendulum swung in recent years that I fear the greatest danger at present is so-called "positive discrimination" (in favour of state school pupils).

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