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01/19/2010 10:29 AM ID: 82526 Permalink   

UK Students Set to be Judged on Background, not Grades


A Labour blueprint on social mobility document has drawn criticism from opposition MPs and educators over content aiming to socially engineer university students. The plans include accepting lower grades from people with poorer backgrounds.

Middle-lass students will also be expected to pay extra to fund bursaries for less well-off students. Most students already face a debt burden of £20,000 for a 3-year degree, however. The aim is to increase ´social mix´ in higher education.

It has been questioned why ministers intend to force higher education institutions to accept lower grades rather than deal with the issue of state schools offering poorer attainment than private rivals.

    WebReporter: Maxx20 Show Calling Card      
ASSESS this news: BLOCK this news. Reason:
having got a degree and worked damned hard to both pay for it and attain it, I find this insulting. My parents are middle class, I think. That doesn´t mean that they actually have any money, but they do own a house, 2 cars and eat reasonably well. The house hasn´t been updated for years and the cars aren´t new but in Britain, you have to be rich for all of that.

Meanwhile I worked 7 days a week in the university holidays to be able to afford a good standard of life while I studied. I also spent hours reading books and revising in order to get the GCSEs, A-levels and finally, the degree.

I´m sure I´ve posted similar before, but I don´t understand why, just because my parents work for a living, that my grades should be worth less, the hours I spend working should fund someone else´s time at university and not my own and that I should be disadvantaged at every turn simply because I was willing to try hard to achieve what I have. Which believe me, isn´t much. That £20,000 average debt in the summary, yup, right here, I´m going to be paying for that education until I´m 40 and if I´m honest, for the return on investment (career) it wasn´t worth it anyway.

This is just another slap in the face for anyone who tries. Roll on election!
  by: Maxx20     01/19/2010 10:37 AM     
  I read the source  
to mean UK students are set to be judged on background AND grades.

So, devil´s advocate:

A student who comes from a disadvantaged (and likely uneducated) family and rubbish schools to get B grades at uni is often more of an achievement than a "middle class" student who went to decent schools and had well educated parents getting A grades.

Would you rather they based it entirely on skin colour?
  by: Jamesmc   01/19/2010 11:39 AM     
I get your point, but will a student from an under-privileged background with lower grades have the aptitude to take on University-level learning and tasks? I mean it´s all well and good to say that a ´B´ is an achievement for someone with the odds stacked against them, but, is lowering the overall bar actually the answer?

In the UK we currently have a world class education system, especially at HE level. It´s not going to look good or serve anyone to lower the standards so that those having a tough time can achieve them. Neither is disadvantaging those achieving well from more privileged backgrounds, effectively ensuring they never reach their potential. It´s pretty much the essence of socialism, bring everyone to the lowest common denominator, and I tell you what, there are developing meritocracies in the world that will piss all over Britain the first chance they get if we drop quality in the name of equality.

On this planet we all need to compete to survive.
  by: Maxx20     01/19/2010 12:14 PM     
  Why in the world  
would being poor make you stupid? I grew up poor as hell, and did just fine.

Why in the world would you want to enact affirmative action after the fact, instead of addressing the actual problem - namely, ensuring that the schools that produce inferior education perform better?
  by: Jenkie     01/19/2010 12:45 PM     
Growing up poor wouldn´t make you stupid. However, the private schools and the state schools in better areas get a higher class of teacher than the state schools in rough areas. Also, in rough areas there´s a higher likelihood of being stuck in a class at school with a bunch of disruptive idiots, whereas in a private school they won´t stand for that kind of behaviour.

Kids who are poor have poor parents, the parents are typically poor because they never placed any value on education and therefore are unable to get a decent job and often unwilling to work at all, so the whole cycle just repeats itself with their kids most of the time.

There are obviously exceptions to this, I am generalising quite a lot, but for a lot of kids this is just the way it is.

However, I am not in any way condoning judging kids based on background rather than grades, if anything, I believe that colleges and universities should reinstate entrance exams as the school education system here is such a joke, you get kids with A and B grades who can barely read and write - what differentiates these from the smart kids who also get an A? Also, since GCSEs and A-Levels are often weighted towards coursework rather than exams, you have no way of proving that the kid did all the work on their own, I´ve heard of plenty of kids who had older siblings and even parents doing their coursework for them.
  by: TabbyCool     01/19/2010 02:23 PM     
  50/50 here  
I concede the point about poorer students in the crummiest of state schools being given a bit of leeway (and i mean CRUMMIEST - most schools are fine). *

I do take exception to middle class students paying more to fund the less well off students. University costs were high when I was there and now they have skyrocketed. I don´t think I would be able to go now if I had to fund it all. It is unusual for high school students to earn much above minimum wage so saving for uni is hard enough as it is.

*Going to a good school does not mean you get good grades. It is perfectly possible to go to the best school in the country and fail epically.
  by: Eidron   01/19/2010 07:16 PM     
how much of your tuition did your parents pay for you?

you mentioned working to have a higher standard of living, to me that doesn´t include tuition..
  by: thedeeder   01/20/2010 09:19 AM     
Oh, my parents paid nothing for my tuition, I went to a state school. As I said before I also worked 7-day weeks, shifts up to 16 hours in the holidays at university to get me the arguably comfortable life I had there. Parents did contribute towards my university costs though.

Tuition at UK universities has changed since I went, when I did it the state paid most and about £1000 a year had to come from the student or their family. Often this came out of the £4000 (ish) loan we got every year. This is what I´m going to be paying back till I´m 40. Now it´s worse, top-up fees come from a separate loan of up-to £3000 per year on top of the cost of living loan. Who knows if today´s students will ever pay back the loans, I fully expect people from today to retire still paying it from their pensions to be honest. The time-bomb is well and truely ticking for UK education.

Sadly it will be people like me working our arses off at both education and part time jobs to get comfortable that will be dragged right back down paying for someone not working to have a better time. Oh, and our grades will be worth less because of where we come from.
  by: Maxx20     01/20/2010 09:39 AM     
Are you willing to also put up with the eventual lowering of academic standards, when a person, who can only hope to achieve a lower mark, is still pulled into the academic system?

Will you put up with the lowering of academic standards even if it produces your next doctor/lawyer?
  by: kmazzawi     01/20/2010 09:31 PM     
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