February 27, 2004

Frost Hits the Rhubarb

Equal Opportunity: Achieve Equal Results -- or Else!

Clarke's class war on universities Janet Daley, Feb. 25, 04, Telegraph

This sounds familiar. The universities may not charge top-up fees -- yet must recruit for diversity from people who might not be able to afford top-up fees. Many universities, such as Oxbridge, have been doing this -- but the results have not been sufficient -- so coercion is imposed. Not only must we have EQUAL OPPORTUNITY; WE HAD BETTER ACHIEVE EQUAL RESULTS -- OR ELSE! Social engineering at its most chilling! Where do merit, ambition, enough desire on the part of the student to work for the money come in? You jest! Students from underrepresented social classes deserve to go to university!

[. . . . The Secretary of State for Education, says the Office for Fair Access or Offa ] is not to flinch from its obligation to enforce the recruitment of university students from groups now "under-represented" in higher education, nor to inflict the maximum penalty upon those institutions that fail to make sufficient efforts in this direction. We all know which groups he means but just in case Offa staff were in any doubt, here is a list: those from the three lower social classes, from state schools and colleges (but not highly rated grammar schools and sixth form colleges, which are to be stigmatised as if they were private), from "low participation neighbourhoods", from some ethnic minorities (presumably not those fiercely ambitious Asians who are already determined to be doctors and lawyers).

Also not to be forgotten in this effort to enlist students on any criteria except the relevant one of academic merit, are those with children or "elder care" responsibilities, and the disabled. And this official "guidance" is not, repeat not, to be regarded lightly.

[. . . . ] The greatest irony is that many of those disadvantaged young whom Mr Clarke wants to dragoon into university would be better off training as plumbers or train drivers.

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