Let the best students in
The Today Program this morning again had the debate about what grades universities should require. This is something I’ve banged on about before. Some argue that it is discriminatory to require those who (like me) went to private school to get better grades. But these people seem to be ignoring some basic truths. The simple fact is that, every academic study I’ve ever seen has found that state school students at university get better grades at the end of their degree.
This is no surprise. Private schools are good at what they do. They coach students to get into universities ahead of their more able colleagues at state schools. This is why they are so expensive. But by the end of a four year (or, in England, three year) degree, it’s raw intelligence & hard work that shine through.
Universities guard these statistics closely. But the truth is simple. In order to choose those students who will get the best grades by the end of their degrees, universities must take into account the context in which their school leaving grades are achieved. This is not just fair, though it is. It is not just that it is necessary in order to build a more just society, though it is. It is also in the direct interests of the universities.
The idea that we shouldn’t take the context of exam results into account is political correctness gone mad.
A good many vabeallus you’ve given me.
Good point. The problem with training people to achieve something is they do just that – and focus on nothing more. This is the issue I have with setting targets and objectives in any sphere.
I went to a state school, but it was a Grammar school and Physics was my thing. We had excellent Physics teachers who, after the first of 2 A level papers told us the topics they could guarantee would come up in the second, so we swotted just those and yes they came up, and I got an A.
At Uni those from private schools did generally struggle more than those from state schools, largely I felt because many of them wouldn’t have made it to Uni without the extra support they received at school.
Once into a career, again those with ability and determination tend to succeed. However, those from the top private schools will have ‘contacts’ which make all the difference. It’s that which I object to.