Oxbridge rejects Adonis ‘access’ colleges

Little support for the former education minister’s scheme

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In a hitherto-unheard of show of solidarity, senior figures from both Oxford and Cambridge have expressed discomfort with Lord Adonis' plans for new colleges exclusively for 'disadvantaged' students, supposedly to tackle access issues.

Already criticised by many, including this paper , for creating and exacerbating divisions amongst students, as well as being a somewhat patronising move, the proposal has now been addressed by senior figures at each establishment.

Over at The Other Place, Prof Martin Williams (pro-vice-chancellor for education) stated that: “We know that our undergraduates value the chance to mix with and learn from fellow students of all backgrounds, including our international students.

“Oxford colleges were once segregated on the basis of gender and we don’t want to create new divisions on any grounds. We share Lord Adonis’s aspiration to ensure the opportunities of an Oxford education are open to all talented students but his plan does not offer the across-the-board change we are looking for.”

His sentiments were shared by a spokesperson for the University of Cambridge: “Cambridge is making consistent progress in reaching students from under-represented groups. In the 2017 intake, we admitted more state school pupils than ever previously recorded.

“We know we can do better still but we cannot do it in isolation. As a country, we must focus on raising ambitions and attainment levels in schools and on changing perceptions among parents and teachers.”

Although Adonis' proposal is a clear miss- there are also worries of "ghettoisation" involved in creating specialist "areas" for disadvantaged students- it comes as just the latest in a long line of recent arguments regarding access in Oxbridge. Clearly, something must be done, but no-one is yet clear on what.

Cover image licensed in the public domain