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Manchester may lower entry grades

Started by bamalli, May 17, 2008, 07:36:41 PM

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Manchester may lower entry grades
Manchester University
Manchester is a member of the leading Russell Group of universities

One of the UK's largest university is considering lowering its entry requirements for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Manchester University says a systematic approach is needed to identify the best students from all backgrounds.

A report from its vice-chancellor Alan Gilbert suggests a transparent admissions system with a range of entry grades and "differential offers".

Universities are being urged to take more students from poorer families.

In his interim review of undergraduate education, Professor Gilbert warns that Manchester, a member of the Russell Group of leading universities, is moving further away from its "benchmarks for widening participation".

Over many decades, the cumulative effect has placed quality undergraduate education in serious jeopardy
Professor Alan Gilbert
Vice-chancellor of Manchester University

He says: "We aim to be an inclusive institution and therefore need to adopt more systematic measures to enable identification and selection of the best possible students from all educational backgrounds."

There was a need for "more sophisticated measures of academic performance to identify the most outstanding students", he says.

He then quotes from a university task force on admissions and standards, which says the university should explore options for assessing the educational potential of applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds.

"Meritocratic admissions procedures", based on "sound defensible principles" aimed at widening participation, is needed.

These would necessitate "moving towards a transparent system involving a range of entry grades facilitating the use of differential offers to our applicant pool".

'Social engineering'

A Manchester University spokesman said the review looked at a wide range of subjects and was at a very early stage.

"What we want is the best students and the review is looking at how we can identify the most talented students," he added.

Since 2004, universities have been required to take the background of potential students into consideration.

A review of university admissions suggested a B grade at A-Level might signify more for a pupil who had to overcome a number of obstacles than one from a middle-class background.

But earlier attempts to give students from poorer backgrounds extra help have been dubbed "social engineering".

Prof Gilbert also warned that the "massification" of higher education along with a lack of funding over the last few decades was putting university education "under grave threat".

The government aims to ensure 50% of young adults get a university education by 2010.

Prof said it was "horrifying" that it was no longer realistic for university teachers to expect to know the names of all their students.

"Over many decades, the cumulative effect has placed quality undergraduate education in serious jeopardy," he added.