Welsh ‘hubs’ plan to boost Oxbridge acceptances

The “Oxbridge Ambassador for Wales” has recommended partnerships among schools to increase the number of Welsh pupils going to Oxford and Cambridge.

June 20, 2014

The Welsh government will pilot a hub scheme in response to the report from Paul Murphy, the Labour MP for Torfaen, which also calls for pupils to take part in “verbal academic argumentation” to boost confidence.

Mr Murphy, a University of Oxford graduate, says that “focusing on some of the key themes in my report – raising standards, boosting pupils’ self-esteem and sharing best practice in building up our most able and talented young people – will have gains that extend far beyond just Oxbridge application and entry levels”.

The former Secretary of State for Wales was appointed Oxbridge Ambassador in March 2013, tasked with examining the reasons behind the decline in Welsh applications and admissions to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and making recommendations on how this trend can be reversed.

“I believe that to make the necessary impact a national network of partnership hubs should be established to ensure that schools and colleges can learn from each other, and share resources to support their most academically able students,” says Mr Murphy in the report.

The report says these partnerships should focus on “maximising attainment potential”, “inspiring high-achievers to aspire to progress to Oxford, Cambridge and other leading universities, using positive role models and clear information and advice”, and “supporting this progression through academic enrichment activities, specialist support for interviews and tests, and information dissemination”.

Oxford and Cambridge would be “expected to contribute” to the hubs, Mr Murphy says. “A limited amount of funding” would be needed, he argues.

The report analyses data from the Welsh government, Oxford and Cambridge, and Ucas. In the North East of England, education attainment levels are on average below those in Wales, yet applicants from the North East are admitted to Oxford and Cambridge at the average rate for the UK – a lot higher than Welsh applicants, it says.

The report also says it is “imperative to facilitate discursive approaches to study, incorporating verbal academic argumentation and critical thinking, in order to boost the performance (and confidence) of Welsh students both in academic (admissions) tests and conversation”.

Andrew Hamilton, Oxford vice-chancellor, said the university “embraces [the report’s] recommendations” and “look[s] forward to working further with the Welsh government and schools”.

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Cambridge vice-chancellor, welcomed the report and its recommendations for “outstanding” students. The report showed “we must collectively ensure that they are appropriately encouraged, supported and most of all stretched in the sixth form”, he said.

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Reader's comments (1)

While a concern for Wales, these two universities in particular perhaps should try to expand their bachelor degree portfolios beyond the current reliance on liberal arts, sciences and medicine, in order to accommodate top State school students in England studying the emerging Tech Bacc subjects.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

PhD Scholar in Medicine

University Of Queensland

Manager, Research Systems and Performance

Auckland University Of Technology

Lecturer in Aboriginal Allied Health

University Of South Australia

Lecturer, School of Nursing & Midwifery

Western Sydney University

College General Manager, SHE

La Trobe University
See all jobs

Most Viewed

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi