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Monday, 24 July, 2000, 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK
'Playground of the rich' warning
Widening access to Oxford University
Universities should invest in widening access, says union leader
Higher education could become so expensive that it becomes a "playground for the children of the rich", a lecturers' union leader has warned.

David Triesman, general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, says the government needs to prevent the university system drifting towards a future in which it becomes socially exclusive.

Presenting evidence to the House of Commons Education Select Committee, Mr Triesman said that greater emphasis needed to be paid to the admissions process for higher education.
David Triesman
David Triesman says more training and research are needed for admissions officers

Extra funds should be available for training and research to improve how universities interview and select students, said Mr Triesman.

"Admissions work has little status or reward and gets minimal resources. All that admissions tutors get is the blame when the balance of the intake is wrong," said Mr Triesman.

"That needs to change - the job needs to carry status and remuneration which reflect its importance.

"No one, least of all our admissions tutors, wants to see universities turned into playgrounds for the children of the rich.

"But, with a university education becoming more expensive, with a decreasing proportion of expenditure being met by the government, that could happen unless urgent action is taken now," said the union leader.

Mr Triesman also made his own contribution to the case of the state school pupil, Laura Spence, who was rejected from Oxford University but given a place at Harvard University.

This was a "scandalous" case, said Mr Triesman, urging universities to widen access.

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See also:

25 May 00 | Education
Chancellor attacks Oxford admissions
13 Jun 00 | Education
Students may get ombudsman
19 Jun 00 | Education
University places inquiry begins
19 Jul 00 | Education
Cash to widen university access
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