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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 January 2006, 16:56 GMT
University 'quotas' under attack
Andrew Boggis
Andrew Boggis: championing the independent sector
An independent school leader has called for an end to government targets for the proportion of state school pupils going to universities.

Andrew Boggis, the new chairman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC), wanted the government to celebrate the independent sector.

Mr Boggis, warden of Forest School in Snaresbrook, east London, said there should be open access to university.

Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell said it should be on academic ability.

Post-qualification applications

Mr Boggis said: "I will be asking the government to take pride in and celebrate - rather than disparage - our sector and to enter real partnership schemes which match the rhetoric with cash," he said.

"HMC will play its part in continuing the pressure on the government to take its remaining tanks off our university quadrangles.

"There is no place for targets, benchmarks and quotas for the different sectors as far as university admission is concerned."

The sector has been alarmed by moves to let prospective university students make their applications after they know their A-level or Highers results.

This would be expected to favour those from state schools with relatively poor academic records, which tend to underestimate students' exam grades.

Mr Boggis said: "We seek open access to our universities for all pupils regardless of schooling, and a proper axis between good schools and good universities."

He added: "We do not want any ham-fisted attempts to equate 'independent school' with 'socially and economically privileged'."

'No quotas'

In response to his remarks the Higher Education Minister, Bill Rammell, said university should be a privilege available to all young people with academic ability, regardless of income or what school they attend.

¿There are not - and never have been - any government targets or quotas for the admission of state school students," he said.

"But I make no apology about wanting to see greater representation of students from lower socio economic groups in higher education."

The government's student finance reforms had been designed with the poorest groups in mind.

¿All students, their parents and advisers should have confidence in the fairness of the application systems," he added.

In the past some independent schools have claimed to have noticed a bias against their candidates by leading universities.

However, an investigation by the Independent Schools Council last year did not substantiate this.

"There is no evidence of discrimination against independently schooled students," it concluded.




SEE ALSO:
University entry options set out
09 Sep 05 |  Education
Post-results student place plan
12 Nov 03 |  Education
University entry overhaul planned
14 Sep 04 |  Education


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