19 March 2007


The plan by UCAS, the universities admissions system, to ask prospective students about their parents' educational background has given rise to some hysterical tripe.

But it is an idiotic scheme. On one hand, as we know from the argument about the feasibility of a graduate tax when student funding was a big issue a couple of years back, there is no way of telling who has a degree and who has not. There is no central database of graduates, and no institution has the means to check university by university. So wannabe students can simply make up their parents' educational histories as they choose.

On the other, as an admissions tutor, I can't help but think that the knowledge that Sparta Sporg's mum is that Ethel Sporg, feminist historian at the University of Neasden, and that her dad did a doctorate in English at Oxford supervised by the legendary Terence Mountebanke, author of Post-Post-Modernism: A Critique, might tilt even the most right-on equal-opportunities leftist in the poor girl's favour.

Wasn't Ethel in the IMG with Tarquin who teaches sociology at Bermondsey? And didn't Terence go out years ago with Julia, who then had an affair with that bloke on the Guardian?

At least Sparta will know about books ... so give her a place, make up the access quota elsewhere on the quiet – and pass the sickbag.

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