Gransnet forums


Oxbridge still for the elite

(222 Posts)
JessM Fri 27-Jun-14 06:56:07

Poor children still have only a tiny chance of getting into Oxbridge.
There are some top class brains amongst those on Free School Meals but some times they don't even get to university.
In Wales there is an initiative to have local hubs to encourage applications to Oxbridge as there are few Welsh students getting into Oxbridge.
Apparently Eton students get about 60 places a year. Only twice that number got there from the whole of Wales.

thatbags Fri 27-Jun-14 07:01:56

Hmm. I'm not sure the chance is all that tiny. I wouldn't believe statistics in the Daily Mail without a little more investigation. No, I'll rephrase that. I wouldn't believe statistics quoted in the Daily Mail, full stop.

thatbags Fri 27-Jun-14 07:03:21

And it depends how you define elite.

Gagagran Fri 27-Jun-14 07:21:24

And how you define poor

petallus Fri 27-Jun-14 07:55:21

Gagagran, after a quick look at the summary of the research findings in the DM, it seems they used the criteria of being eligible for free school meals to define 'poor'.

Not sure how they defined 'elite', but probably to do with family income and whether the child went to a private school or not.

thatbags your first impulse (to not believe statistics without a little more investigation) was scientifically sound. The second? Oh, please tell me this potentially interesting thread is not going to degenerate into an emotion-fuelled anti-Mail shout-fest! grin

thatbags Fri 27-Jun-14 08:20:06

Rest assured, pet, I'd have said the same about statistics in the Guardian. smile

thatbags Fri 27-Jun-14 08:20:52

Especially statistics on this subject.

thatbags Fri 27-Jun-14 08:21:38

Another qualification: statistics published in newspapers.

Elegran Fri 27-Jun-14 08:23:43

And statistics quoted by People on Buses.

Agus Fri 27-Jun-14 08:25:57

grin something I never!believe!

Agus Fri 27-Jun-14 08:26:46

Too slow. Both of the above posts.

Soutra Fri 27-Jun-14 08:49:17

Maybe it's to do with coming from north of the border, but I can never quite "get" the English obsession with Oxbridge. I am convinced that for many disciplines other regional universities , Manchester, Edinburgh, Trinty Coll Dublin or e.g. UCL, the LSE etc are every bit as good or better. Not wishing to detract from the achievement of those who have studied there, but there are other great centres of learning in the UK ( not least my own alma mater!)

Paula8 Fri 27-Jun-14 08:51:18

Elegran you say that statistics were quoted by people on Buses--is that good or bad?? sorry I am confused by your post thanks

thatbags Fri 27-Jun-14 09:01:31

I agree, soutra. I don't think the constantly repeated anti-Oxbridge stuff is about intellectual elitism though. I don't think there's anything intrinsically wrong with universities choosing their students on academic achievement. Don't they all? Well, certainly all the good ones. That is a kind of elitism but elitism per se is not automatically A Bad Thing.

Elegran Fri 27-Jun-14 09:03:57

Paula I was replying to Thatbags who said that she did not automatically believe statistics quoted in the Daily Mail - or the Guardian or in any other newspaper. To that I added people in buses. People I chat to on buses are always repeating statistics that they don't understand, or misquote.

petallus Fri 27-Jun-14 09:25:20

I think the thing to do if you are interested enough is to locate the original research report.

The problem with chosing students on the basis of their academic achievement is that you don't then always get the best brains going on to run this country, head big companies and so on (which could account for the mess we often find ourselves in) since academic achievement is not always an indication of level of intelligence.

Some people are educated well beyond their natural ability and others get nowhere near to fulfilling their potential.

Theoretically speaking, if you took two children with the same basic intelligence and educated one of them at Eton and the other in a run down state school, who do you think would end up with the better academic qualifications?

Add into the mix the Old Boys' Network and, well, as I said, no wonder the country and our businesses are in a mess!

Agus Fri 27-Jun-14 09:40:21

Agree Soutra

thatbags Fri 27-Jun-14 09:47:06

There's a lot of Oxbridge that has nothing to do with the old boy network. There's a lot of Oxbridge that has everything to do with taking clever students from all kinds of schools. Why shouldn't they?

And if some schools, state or private, don't cut the mustard academically, isn't that a problem with the schools rather than the universities? If the proportion of Welsh students getting into Oxbridge is lower than elsewhere, is that Oxbridge's fault or that of Welsh schools? I'm not saying it is, only that that thought has entered my mind.

I'm also saying stop bloody blaming Oxford and Cambridge! They are damn good universities and we should be proud of them, just as we can be proud of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, etc, etc, etc universities.

thatbags Fri 27-Jun-14 09:49:28

I find the notion that people can be "educated beyond their natural ability" very odd. What on earth does it mean?

thatbags Fri 27-Jun-14 10:01:34

And to illustrate my point, MrB went to a bloodyawful Welsh school and left at sixteen with only 2 CSEs. By sheer hard work and determination he then studied with the Open University to gain qualifications to get into the University of Wales and from there went on to do a DPhil at Oxford.

I have plenty more stories like that. Oxbridge does not exclude clever people if they prove their worth, whatever their social background. MrB was brought up in a very poor, illiterate (yes, literally) household.

petallus Fri 27-Jun-14 10:12:07

I don't know what I mean Bags but, er, think George Bush.

Good on Mr B. I went a similar route myself but not to Oxford.

But you must know there are comparative duffers at Oxbridge/or other excellent universities. What about the Royal Highnesses?

Got to go out now smile

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 27-Jun-14 10:13:40

I don't you have to be amongst the "elite" to get a place at Oxford or Cambridge. It's just that candidates with top A level grades are ten a penny at the interviews and they look for the ones with that extra bit of promise in their character traits. The interview questions are carefully composed to discover this.

petallus Fri 27-Jun-14 10:17:04

As further 'evidence' for the educated beyond their ability idea, there is currently quite a bit of concern among educationalists that only 2% of children at grammar schools qualify for school meals.

The system has been taken over by the comparatively well off who can pay for private primary schools, employ tutors to coach their children in the 11 plus exam, and who are anyway more confident and knowledgeable about how to 'work the system'.

This may well mean that duller children from these homes get places above brighter children who don't have the same advantages.

That's the sort of thing I was thinking of.

petallus Fri 27-Jun-14 10:17:33

Now it's John Lewis for this month's free cake and coffee!

JessM Fri 27-Jun-14 10:57:23

Oh dear. I'm damned if I say everything in the DM is rubbish and damned if I don't.