Subjects give entry criteria but no guarantees

May 2, 2003

Do wealthy colleges give students a richer experience? Claire Sanders reports

All subjects at Oxford University are publishing selection criteria on their websites.

The move is part of efforts by the university to ensure that its procedures are fair and transparent and will not fall foul of the new Office for Fair Access or the principles of good practice being drawn up by Steven Schwartz, vice-chancellor of Brunel University.

The university is particularly keen to head off the government push to a centralised rather than college-based admissions procedure.

The history website lists the qualities it will be looking for as intellectual curiosity, conceptual clarity, flexibility, accuracy and attention to detail, critical engagement, capacity for hard work, enthusiasm for history and evidence of historical imagination and understanding.

Candidates will also be assessed on their qualifications, submitted written work and interviews.

In theology, candidates will be assessed on their ability to understand complex concepts, form sound arguments, respond to counter-arguments, openness to learning, ability at close textual reading and interpretation, evidence of enthusiasm/motivation, including dedication and diligence in work and evidence of independent thought and reading.

A spokesperson stressed that meeting these criteria would not guarantee a place at the university.

The university, along with Cambridge University and University College London, is also using a new biomedical admissions test to assess medical and biomedical students for entry this September.

The test, which was developed by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, aims to help admissions tutors distinguish applicants with real potential from those who have been well coached. The test does not require any subject knowledge beyond GCSE-level science and maths.

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