Meritocracy? Grrrr….

This blog isn’t about politics but sometimes I get so cross I just want to GROWL.

The government wants to create ‘extra’ places for rich kids to pay their way into a good university: if they pass the entrance requirements.

We are  supposed to believe that these kids,

who would have got in on merit anyway, honest guv,

are willing to pay considerably more for their education, just because they can.

Come on.

The only entrance requirement will be the size of their cheque book.

The idea of offering places to thick, rich kids is especially galling this morning. I’ve just been talking to my daughter about one of her friends. He moved to the sixth form at her school from a  secondary that has just come out of special measures. His GCSE results were okay – no A stars but, considering the school he came from,  he had done remarkably well. His A/S results, however, are outstanding and his A-level results are likely to be the same.

He has been turned down for every good university he applied to because his GCSE results are not strong enough. No allowance will be made for poor education because his secondary school is no longer in ‘special measures.’

The unfairness of this makes sick.  The only way kids should get to university is on merit and yet all  through our education system, the less well off are disadvantaged. Not helping  bright, motivated,  young people – those  who are struggling against peer pressure and poor teaching – to get a decent education, is not only wrong, it’s stupid.

We should not be diluting our universities with youngsters who are not clever enough to be there.   University should be for the brightest of  people regardless of background, status or the size of their wallet.

Not that I think University is the only route for success in life – I absolutely don’t, but that’s a whole different growl…

8 Comments Add yours

  1. kmlockwood says:

    I am appalled by this.
    Well said, Kathryn.

  2. Tracy says:

    OMG! I didn’t know THIS! was happening. Disgusting and unfair and so in keeping with this government’s ideology.

  3. Jeannette Towey says:

    I couldn’t agree more that universities should recruit on the basis of who’s best suited to do the course regardless of their background. What we have now stinks in all sorts of ways. The example you’ve given is one. I’ve heard of really bright kids (straight As and A*s throughout) who’ve been privately educated not getting into the course they want because an unofficial quota is being used. I know that it’s easier to get good grades if you go to a good school but penalising genuinely bright privately-educated kids doesn’t seem any more right than discriminating against bright kids who’ve been to crap schools either.

    It’s going to take a generation at least to sort out this mess. Do we deal with the schools first? The universities? Both? There are going to be untold horror stories on the way and you and I, Kathy, have both got kids caught up in it. Makes you wonder if we should send them abroad for university doesn’t it? Let’s face it, at this rate, it’d be as cheap to go to a US uni and at least the kids are used to having jobs at the same time as studying there!


    1. V. Kathryn Evans says:

      I wonder if there should be an aptitude test – like the LNAT- for all courses – carefully designed it should sort out all the brightest kids….

  4. bryonypearce says:

    When I was at University we had something called ‘drinking societies’. Because Cambridge is a college system, and some of the colleges are quite small, it’s nice to occasionally meet people outside your restricted set, so the girls drinking society would host a meal for the boys from another college and vice versa.
    The point of this is that one evening Corpus girls were hosting boys from Magdalene. Now Magdalene was the last college to allow girls in (and they still wear a black arm band every anniversary of said travesty). During the course of the meal the ‘boys’ expressed the view that if you went to Eton you should automatically get a place in Oxbridge “because you’ve paid for your education’. Given that they were talking to a group of (inebriated) girls, three of whom were state school students, you can imagine the scene.
    However, we’re now in our thirties … and those clueless, braying rich boys have presumably become the men who are running the country. It’s utterly terrifying.

    1. V. Kathryn Evans says:

      God B, I can’t tell you the shiver that sent down my spine… I think we sometimes drift along, believing we do have a degree of social mobility and if you work hard all will be well , and then you realise something like that …stuff of nightmares.

  5. Nick Cross says:

    As someone who got middling GCSEs and A-levels, went to university on a full grant and then came out with a First – I feel strongly about this. As someone who has bright children who are already worrying that they may not be able to afford to go to university – I feel more strongly still. But as to how we sort the whole mess out? Well, if I knew that, I’d probably be going into government.

    1. V. Kathryn Evans says:

      I wish I knew. My degree was in drama – I could act it out for you if you like?

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