Oxford University will brilliant pupils from struggling schools

Oxford University will accept scores of brilliant pupils from struggling schools even if they fail to get expected grades – sparking claims of ‘unfair’ discrimination

  • Students who drop a grade – or even two – below their offer will still be admitted 
  • The chairman of the Campaign for Real Education says it is ‘social engineering’
  • 69.1 per cent of offers were made to state schools up from 64.5 per cent in 2019

Oxford University is set to accept ‘star’ pupils from struggling schools even if they underperform in their exams.

It is the first time the institution has implemented such an across-the-board policy that will favour teenagers from worse performing schools.

While state schools have welcomed the move, critics have described the decision as ‘social engineering’ and warned that it may be seen as unfair by private school applicants. 

It comes as concern grows for the new emergency exam awarding system – based on past performance and teacher assessments – brought in after schools shut due to the pandemic.       

Oxford University is set to accept ‘star’ pupils from struggling schools even if they underperform in their exams

Samina Khan, director of admissions at Oxford, said students who dropped a grade or two below their offer would still be admitted.

Decisions on each student who fails to meet an offer will be made before results are published on August 13. The university will also look at factors including the school’s region and the candidate’s postcode. 

Khan told The Times: ‘Despite these unusual circumstances because of Covid-19, we will recognise the academic potential of students who are under-represented at Oxford, who tend to be students from poorer backgrounds.’ 

‘We want to be flexible with students who have had a rough ride this year … (and) will apply a degree of clemency.’

It comes as concern grows for the new emergency exam awarding system – based on past performance and teacher assessments – brought in after schools shut due to the pandemic

Oxford is worried the new exam arrangements will set back young people from state schools and black and ethnic minorities. 

A record 69.1 per cent of offers have been to state schools, up from 64.5 per cent in 2019.

Brilliant pupils at schools with typically low exam results are likely to be impacted the most as grades will be awarded partly based on previous results. 

Oxford will put on catch-up classes in maths and other subjects for first-year students who have missed a huge chunk of their courses.   

Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘The results this year will be fake grades but what Oxford is doing is social engineering. It is not fair to admit a teenager who has missed their offer just because they come from a poor background and a poorly performing state school.’ 

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