Posts Tagged ‘university’

Clegg’s phoney war on social immobility

23/04/2011, 12:30:27 PM

by Susanna Bellino

David Cameron’s comments a few weeks ago about Oxford university’s lack of black students might have annoyed its dons and PR team but he made a valid point. Granted he skewed the statistics but the truth remains that only 27 black undergraduates – approximately 1% – made its undergraduate intake that year.

The results of a freedom of information request by David Lammy MP revealed, among other startling facts, that Merton College, Oxford, had not admitted a single black student for five years. And although it pains me to say it, my own alma mater doesn’t fair much better – despite its more liberal reputation, white students were more likely to be successful than black applicants at every Cambridge college except one.

These figures are in stark contrast to Oxbridge’s American counterpart, Harvard, where 11% of students were black. Affirmative action no doubt plays a large part in this but Oxbridge does run its own access programmes although – if rumours are to be believed – aiming these schemes at a comprehensive school in Hackney might better achieve social mobility than running them at Marlborough College.

For once, we can’t blame the coalition for something. Oxbridge’s unrepresentative undergraduate intake and the general trend of the lack of upward social mobility in the UK has long been an issue. When I went up to Cambridge in 2007, 57% of the student body were state school educated – a decent enough figure perhaps but we need to consider that in 1997, 55% of the student body were state school educated – hardly an improvement. (more…)

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Social Mobility – the Coalition’s great leap back

16/04/2011, 04:32:17 PM

by Dan Johnson

The question ‘how many black people go to Oxford?’ sounds like the beginning of a very bad joke, unfortunately that joke is our education system and no-one is laughing.

Oxford isn’t racist, I don’t think it’s sexist, I don’t think it still has the same attitude to class that many perceive it to have. The problem isn’t the universities, it’s the government. Universities can only accept people who get the grades, and the grades of everyone in state schools depends on the funding going in to the schools, the teachers, the headteacher and their parents at home.

I should declare an interest; I’m a governor at both a further education college and an academy in my hometown of Thornaby, they are both great institutions that do a great job with the tools they are given. Unfortunately there are going to be fewer tools in future.

SureStart closures will affect those who can’t afford anywhere else, and will also remove valuable training opportunities from young mothers.

EMA has been removed from those whose family earns above the free school meal threshold (£16,190), so if you have two working parents who are both on the minimum wage you won’t get a penny, how’s that for targeting? It now emerges that the new rate won’t be £38 a week: it’ll be £30; it seems Nick Clegg thought that state schools were like private schools and only have lessons for 31 weeks of the year.

The ‘pupil premium’ will take money away from poor pupils in poor areas and give it to poor pupils in well-off areas, and that’s before you factor in an increase in the number of pupils.

The Tory answer to social mobility is to bring back grammar schools. We can see first-hand how grammar schools work, just look to Northern Ireland. The most able pupils do marginally better but the least able to significantly worse. Thankfully the government is resisting the call, but it is still creating a two-tier state system with the introduction of free schools and the roll-out of academy status to top-performing schools.

We need a well-balanced work force in the future and that requires better schools and a better start in life for many children. I don’t really care that Nick Clegg had an internship with a Finnish bank (he may need the contacts in 2015), what I care about is the scorched earth policy this government is leaving to the next generation.

Dan Johnson is the Labour party candidate in Stainsby Hill, Thornaby in the local elections this year.

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“What you talkin’ about, Willetts?” asks Richard Partington

11/06/2010, 10:55:57 AM

Hat tip to John Prescott (

Just four months before his ascent to the cabinet, David Willetts published a book that showed how his baby boomer generation “stole their children’s future – and how they can give it back.”

So there is great piquancy in his clearest indication yet that students could be forced to pay higher tuition fees – a move which would condemn subsequent generations to a grim financial future.

In The Pinch, Willetts explains that the baby boomers have attained a position of power and wealth at the expense of their children. Yet his comment that the current cost of students’ degree courses are a “burden on the taxpayer that had to be tackled” shows that he himself holds no remorse.

He has not pre-empted the recommendations of Lord Browne’s independent review into whether fees should rise from £3,225 a year. But he did say that students should consider fees “more as an obligation to pay higher income tax” than a debt.


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