Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Guardian letter on unfairness of Pre-U exams

With Oxford and Cambridge universities "still dominated by white, wealthy students, many of whom privately educated", the "transition programme" being introduced by Cambridge does not go far enough (Cambridge sets up £500m scheme to help poor students, 02/10/18). Whilst both universities are willing to accept Pre-U examinations as entrance qualifications instead of insisting on A-levels, which as Ofqual admits are "national qualifications based on content set by the government", it is difficult to judge the relationship between Oxbridge and the private education sector as anything but too cosy.
     Pre-U exams, run by Cambridge Assessment, are "indeed regulated by Ofqual", as stated by the awarding body`s chief executive (Letters, 13/07/18), but as a recent reply to a FOI request revealed, are not subject to the "additional rules" which apply to A-levels. These Subject Level Conditions include that all awarding organisations review "similar qualifications made available by other awarding organisations". The FOI request also disclosed that Ofqual does not collect information relating to the number of Pre-U papers set and marked by teachers in the independent sector.
    Jonathan Wolff rightly complains that "there are no fruitful ideas" from the new universities minister, but doesn`t even mention the two-tiered entry qualification (In his first appraisal, it`s no performance related pay rise for the universities minister, 02/10/18). Having privately educated pupils competing with students from underfunded state schools for the same university places is obviously unfair, but allowing the former to use a different entry route as well, is simply unjust. 

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