University responds to the Schwartz review on university admissions
Press release issued: 6 April 2004
The University is pleased to note that the admissions principles and procedures it published in 2003 are in tune with the principles outlined in the draft recommendations of the Schwartz review.
Bristol will continue to recruit the best students it can - ones who will thrive at the University and do it credit. Such students exist in every part of society, not in any particular social class or category or in any particular type of school.
One of the University's most important tasks is to seek out and encourage those with the academic ability, motivation and potential to meet its standards. These standards are high and will not be lowered. There is no question of the University 'dumbing down'.
In assessing applications, this University (like others) takes educational and social context into account. This is not because it favours candidates from any particular background, but because an appreciation of the context in which an individual performs can help the University to judge his or her motivation and potential. Context is, of course, only one consideration. Actual or predicted grades in examinations are crucially important, as are schools' references and candidates' personal statements.
The University reserves the right to make slightly lower-than-standard offers to individual candidates. This is not because they come from a particular background or belong to a special category but because there is clear evidence from their applications that they will succeed at Bristol and because the University chooses to send them an encouraging signal.
Admissions targets, benchmarks or milestones have no influence on decisions about which candidates receive offers from Bristol. We do not operate quotas. We do not practice positive discrimination.
We want a diverse student body because of the educational and social advantages it brings to everyone, not because we are engaged in social engineering. We know that people from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds have the qualities we seek and believe that greater diversity will be a natural consequence of a fair admissions system. The University's high standards, its widening participation activities and its approach to admissions are complementary, not contradictory.
Last year, Bristol was accused of bias against applicants from independent schools. It has also been accused of bias against applicants from state schools. In fact it has no bias in any direction and welcomes applications from talented candidates of all kinds. Regrettably, in a narrow range of especially popular subjects, the University is forced to reject significant numbers of highly talented applicants from both types of school.
The University was also accused of lack of transparency in its admissions procedures. Its procedures are now at least as transparent as those of any other university and have been published on the web for nearly a year.
There is an article by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eric Thomas, in Guardian Unlimited about university admissions and the Schwartz review. 6 April 2004.