Private schools ‘handicapped by university targets’

In an article in the Times, 02/10/12, Greg Hurst reports on HMC's Chair Dr Chris Ray's speech at the 2012 Annual Conference in Belfast.

Independent school pupils are being handicapped when applying to university because of targets to ensure that more state school pupils get in, according to the head of a leading public school.

Chris Ray, high master at the feepaying Manchester Grammar School, yesterday accused the higher education access regulator of seeking to ensure that wealthier applicants were put at a disadvantage.

In his speech he attacked Les Ebdon, director of the Office for Fair Access, which monitors access to universities, and Alan Milburn, the coalition’s independent reviewer of progress on social mobility, who is preparing a report on university admissions. Quoting from Isaiah Berlin on the threat to liberty from political manipulation, he said that both men were intent on forcing universities to change admissions policies to benefit poor applicants.

“We are told by Milburn, Ebdon and others we may have to use a degree of force to persuade universities to be more representative of the social make-up of the UK. Such men stand firmly in favour of manipulation to achieve their ends,” Dr Ray said.

“Equality, we are told, is too important to do otherwise. Those less advantaged should now be advantaged and the advantaged may have to be disadvantaged.”

Private schools were criticised for being too successful, he said, as their pupils did too well in exams, won too many places at top universities, went on to hold too many positions in public life and even won too many Olympic medals.

By Greg Hurst, The Times. Click here to read the article  © The Times