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Oxford alters admissions policy

23 Jul 2007

Oxford alters admissions policy Oxford University has 'refined' its admissions policy to try and discover bright students who come from poor-performing schools.

A common perception of Oxford students, who bag some of the best-paid jobs in the country, is that they typically come from privileged, private school backgrounds.

Now the university is aiming to be able to tell which school leavers are hitting high academic standards without such advantages.

Details are being requested from schools about their pupils' achievements at A-level and the proportion that go on to university.

This way, it is hoped professors will be able to take school background into account when considering applications.

Mike Nicholson, Oxford's director of undergraduate admissions, explained that "we are keen not to just look at [students'] existing performance but how they could do over three years".

He continued: "A student who is in an environment with a lot of support will be well prepared.

"Where a student has less support, we need to factor that in."

However, opponents of the changes have argued that the details about educational background could be used inappropriately.

Pat Langham, president of the Girls' Schools Association, said: "I am all for widening participationÂ… but I think that all educational information that can be used for statistical purposes has to be viewed with suspicion."

She explained she feared that if the information is used to fill quotas, it could lead to students from high-performing schools being discriminated against.

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