Wednesday 14 December 2011

... Now I'm angry!

At the end of my last post a thought popped into my head. How come the government encourages universities to accept LOWER grades from students who come from 'disadvantaged' backgrounds like inner city estates and / or from families with low or no income - and YET there is no (obvious) policy of doing likewise for students who are disadvantaged because of lengthy and / or serious illness?

I can't actually see the difference.

In fact it feels like discrimination.

Joe Bloggs from a high-rise in the Tower Hamlets might be accepted onto RedBrickVille University BA degree on 3 x B's or whatever whereas Ben Matty from the hell of anorexia nervosa is rejected because he didn't get the 3 x A's.

Yet both, arguably, are equally capable of doing well on this same course.

Should Ben be rejected, then I will start lobbying about this.

It's important. Not just for Ben but for countless other students in his situation whether their disadvantage has come from anorexia or some other serious illness.

Both sets of students need to be given the opportunity to excel at their chosen subject because both sets of students are capable of doing this. Indeed I would argue that both sets of students are probably supremely motivated to do well for themselves.

As I said a couple of posts ago, our local university offers a scheme whereby you CAN apply to be considered with lower grades. If accepted for this scheme you will actually be given a lower offer, not simply some vague possibility that, if there is room on the course, then they might consider lower grades from people who have been ill.

The caveat for this scheme is that you have to be eligible for TWO criteria from a list, virtually all of which - as you can see below - are aimed at students who come from low income families, poorer areas, etc.

  • From a household with an annual income of £25,000 or below OR in receipt of full EMA during their year 12 or year 13 studies (full EMA is currently £20, prior to 2011 full EMA was £30) OR in receipt of free school meals during their GCSE studies
  • In the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education
  • Attends, or have attended, a school which achieved less than the national average of 5 A* to C passes (including English & Maths) at GCSE
  • Only option is to attend a local university
  • Studies disrupted by circumstances in their personal, social or domestic lives
  • Live in a geographical area with low levels of progression onto higher education
  • Living or grew up in public care
The third-to-last point could possibly apply to Ben's situation, but none of the others do.

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