The Daily Telegraph
Past union presidents urge Oxford to honour offers
FORMER presidents of the Oxford University Student Union have published a letter urging the university to admit all A-level offer holders, as Wadham became the fourth college to honour offers irrespective of results.
The letter signed by 15 former presidents called for the university to make offers unconditional.
They wrote: “This generation of pupils has already faced unprecedented disruption to their education. Now young people of outstanding promise are seeing their dream of an Oxford degree taken from them by an automated system which disproportionately harms pupils from low-income backgrounds.”
This year’s A-level grades were calculated by a statistical model, which took into consideration factors such as pupils’ past performances and their schools’ overall academic performance. Critics said it disproportionately disadvantaged poorer students.
Data from the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation showed that 39.1 per cent of grades in England were lowered from teachers’ predictions. However, pupils identified as being of “lower socio-economic status” were statistically more likely to have their grades downgraded.
Hundreds of former students have added their names to a public letter calling for all 2020 offers to be made unconditional, which will be sent to every Oxford admissions office. On Saturday, the university said that it had the “greatest admiration and sympathy” for A-level students, and that more than half of those who missed their offers had been admitted.
However, students who have to appeal their results may lose their places this year, with the university warning “once we reach our maximum intake of undergraduates in 2020, we will have to defer entry to 2021 for any additional candidates who appeal successfully and whose place is then confirmed”.
Some Oxford colleges have taken a different stance. On Thursday, Worcester College became the first to allow all offer holders to take up their places in September regardless of whether they had the specified grades.
Wadham College said yesterday that it had decided to prioritise assessments made by tutors rather than A-level results, and would be admitting “all 2020 offer holders”. Somerville College said that although it has filled all of its places for this year, it would honour the offers for all remaining students for the next academic year. St Edmund’s Hall has also said that it will honour all offers
The university said: “Oxford University has looked carefully at the individual circumstances of all applicants who didn’t meet their grades this year. We have now offered places to over 300 of them. The overwhelming majority are UK state school candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
A Department for Education spokesperson has said: “Any student who successfully appeals their grades will not count against student number controls. We have asked universities to hold places for those whose grades are being appealed.”