Should universities be looking at my background as well as my results?
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We all remember the long-drawn out process of applying to university. Getting the personal statement just right, selecting your choices and pointlessly ticking boxes about family circumstances or previous education. However how would you feel if this information wasn't the only thing used to determine your place at university? With competition stronger than ever, this is increasingly becoming a reality.Institutions claim that A-level results simply aren’t enough to separate one applicant from another. They are therefore making use of ‘contextual data’ which is collected through UCAS. This includes the performance of a pupil’s previous school, whether they were in state or private education, their parents’ education and the number of people from their local area already going to university.
Now I went to an above-average state secondary school, live in a pretty middle-class area and both my parents went to university. Would this additional data put me at a disadvantage even if I got the grades?A new survey suggests that this may be the case. 26% of tutors admitted that they made greater use of the data this year, as the rise in tuition fees is putting off pupils from poorer backgrounds. Acknowledging this problem, OFFA (Office for Fair Access) has set targets to universities instructing them to accept a certain number of disadvantaged students per year. There is obviously nothing wrong with this policy, as the rich/poor gap should not be allowed to widen any further. However fast-tracking a poorer student because of their situation also undermines the notion of fair play and may affect university standards in the long run.
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