National newspapers accuse Leeds of 'social engineering'

The University has been accused of ‘social engineering’ by two national newspapers.

Based on an investigation into the country’s top educational institutions, The Telegraph and Daily Mail claim that some universities offer lower entry requirements to those from poorer backgrounds.

The Telegraph claims that at Leeds, students applying to read Medicine from a low-income area could be given ‘points’ so that three B grades would effectively become three A*s.

However, a University spokesperson told Leeds Student that the points based system “has now been replaced by a system which places emphasis on different factors.”

He added that “applicants through the Access to Leeds scheme may receive offers of ABB. A student receiving 3Bs at A-level would not gain entry to the course.”

Some head teachers have bemoaned the current system, saying it does not favour the brightest students, regardless of their social background. However, the use of contextual data when choosing applicants is common practice to comply with fair access initiatives.

The news comes after the University was also subject to claims that it uses lower entry requirements for international students who pay higher tuition fees, something the University denied.

Edinburgh, Bristol and Birmingham also allegedly use a points based system that takes into account the applicants’ social background.

Mary Curnock Cook, the chief executive at UCAS says she has “real concerns about whether the contextual data is sophisticated enough”.

Author: Rehema Figueiredo

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