They shall not pass

THE (Times Higher Education) - - THE POP­PLE­TO­NIAN -

“Hats off to the Rus­sell Group ad­mis­sions tu­tors.”

That was the some­what un­ex­pected re­ac­tion of Nathan Prest, our Head of Stu­dent Re­cruit­ment, to the re­search find­ing that uni­ver­si­ties in the Rus­sell Group had once again con­trived to ad­mit a dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber of un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents from ad­van­taged ar­eas of the coun­try.

Prest ex­plained that he’d been moved to com­ment be­cause of his recog­ni­tion of the strain that main­tain­ing such a record of in­equal­ity must place upon these ad­mis­sions tu­tors. “Just think of the bat­tles they face. Not only do

they have to ig­nore min­is­te­rial in­junc­tions to ad­mit more dis­ad­van­taged stu­dents, but they must also dis­re­gard the mil­lions of pub­lic money in­vested in im­proved ac­cess and com­pletely over­look all those re­search find­ings that show that stu­dents from dis­ad­van­taged ar­eas out­per­form their more priv­i­leged fel­lows in fi­nal ex­am­i­na­tions.

“But de­spite all these pres­sures, their com­mit­ment to in­equal­ity has been so con­sis­tent that a new re­port from the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Pol­icy In­sti­tute re­veals that stu­dent in­take at such Rus­sell Group uni­ver­si­ties as Ox­ford, Cam­bridge and Bris­tol is cur­rently as ‘un­bal­anced as in­come in­equal­ity in some of the world’s poor­est

coun­tries’. Now, that’s quite an achieve­ment.”

Was this the full ex­tent of his ad­mi­ra­tion for the Rus­sell Group ad­mis­sions pro­ce­dures?

“Not quite. Even when faced by this crys­tal-clear ev­i­dence of per­sis­tent dis­crim­i­na­tion, the Rus­sell Group still feels able to put up a spokes­woman who ig­nores the find­ings and de­clares – with what one likes to imag­ine was a twin­kle in her eye – ‘Rus­sell Group mem­bers are fully com­mit­ted to en­cour­ag­ing stu­dents from dis­ad­van­taged stu­dents to en­ter higher ed­u­ca­tion’. Mag­nif­i­cent!”

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