E-E offers: are we getting thicker?

Rebecca Thomas -News reporter 22 January 2013

Aberystwyth University has recently come under fire for accepting students with EE grades at A-Level.

The shadow Education Minister, Angela Burns, has launched a savage attack upon Aberystwyth and other universities in a similar position, saying that they are “making a mockery of entry requirements.”

However, Aberystwyth released a statement claiming that only three under 21s were offered a place with less than 80 UCAS points for 2012 entry, all of which were for a four year foundation degree in Life Science. This course was developed specifically to enhance access and extend a university education to those who would not normally consider it. Aberystwyth does in fact give applicants EE offers, but these are given based on either exceptional performance at interview or in the Scholarship exam sat in January.

Cambridge University policy is that offers will not be lowered as a consequence of educational background. In a statement to The Cambridge Student, Dr Mike Sewell, Director of Admissions for the Cambridge Colleges said: “We have no plans to introduce systematic grade discounts based on school type because our evidence is that there is no justification for it. We take school performance into consideration as part of our detailed appraisal of the academic record of every applicant.”

“We base our offer levels on research into what will be an appropriate standard to make us confident that a student has every chance of success here. This does not prevent large numbers of students from low-performing schools reaching Cambridge.”

However, the policy of individual colleges is ambiguous. St Catherine’s, in certain circumstances, gives what is referred to on their website as ‘Matriculation Offers’, that being EE at A-Level. Furthermore, Churchill policy states that they will ‘sometimes set a slightly lower offer if an applicant showing great promise has been significantly disadvantaged educationally or otherwise’.

There is inconsistency and ambiguity, but mistaking access schemes for declining standards would be a grave error.

Rebecca Thomas -News reporter