Friday, December 16, 2005


How sad to tamper with one of the world's most successful educational systems. The personalized nature of an Oxford education is widely held to be the secret of its success and that is precisely what is being undermined

College tutors will lose their historic right to select students for admission to Oxford University under plans for sweeping reform announced yesterday. Students will apply to Oxford, not individual colleges, as part of proposals to centralise admissions. A working party on reform said that the changes could be agreed within six months and implemented in 2008. It admitted in a report that the present system left Oxford vulnerable to accusations that bright students, particularly from comprehensive schools, were being rejected unfairly because they did not know how to play the college game. There was a "widespread perception" that candidates could boost their chances of success by choosing the right college, because of differences in the size of different colleges and the number of applicants in each subject. "It is the view of many - both inside and outside Oxford - that we still fall short in terms of having systems in place that can ensure that the very best who apply to Oxford are admitted, irrespective of college choice," the report said.

A central admissions system, in which groups of subject tutors, rather than colleges, chose students, would ensure that Oxford admitted only the best applicants. "Eliminating the perception that college choice can make a difference would also help to encourage more applications from good candidates at schools and sixth-form colleges where there is limited knowledge and experience of Oxford," the report said. It acknowledged that college tutors might object to the loss of their freedom to select the students they wished to teach, but said that this had to be weighed against "the enhanced equality of opportunity for all candidates that should result". "Without central ranking and high levels of co-ordination, colleges are more likely to fill their places from their own cohort of first-choice applicants than to look outside that cohort for candidates of higher quality," it said.

The report was published as Oxford released figures showing that the number of admittances from state schools fell by 1.4 percentage point from 2004 to 46.4 per cent this year, and those from fee-paying schools rose by 1 percentage point to 43.9 per cent. The initiative is the latest by John Hood, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, to modernise procedures. He has already clashed with dons over plans for performance management of academics and to transfer control of Oxford to a board of governors. The working party set out two models for change. Under the first, colleges would tell departments how many places they had available for each subject. Students would apply without naming a college and subject tutors would rank them and conduct interviews. Candidates would be asked if they had a preferred college once they had been offered a place. Under the second model, students would be able to nominate a college but subject tutors would decide whether they were ranked highly enough to merit an interview. Students would be interviewed by the preferred college and one other college before subject tutors decided whether to offer a place.

The working party, chaired by Sir Tim Lankester, President of Corpus Christi College, said: "The aim is to provide further assurance that - with more and more good candidates relative to the available places - the colleges and subject departments and faculties are doing all they reasonably can, together, to select the very best." It acknowledged that the reforms were also driven by a need to show the regulator, the Office for Fair Access, that Oxford was doing all it could to encourage applications from able state-school students


Australian Liberal students celebrate end of 30-year campaign to rescind compulsory unionism for students

Note that in Australia the major conservative party is called the Liberal party. Unlike American "liberals" they really do believe in liberty

Triumphant Liberal students spent the weekend celebrating the enactment of the Higher Education Support Amendment (Abolition of Compulsory Up-Front Student Union Fees) Bill 2005 - better known as voluntary student unionism. Australian Liberal Students Federation president Julian Barendse and ALSF treasurer Rohan D'Souza watched the event live on the internet at Melbourne's Treasury Place. When the result came, they reacted with extreme elation, Mr Barendse said. It had been a tense afternoon; Mr Barendse knew the bill was going to be put, but said there were no guarantees. "It was a very nervous moment," he said. "Anyone watching it would have had butterflies in their stomach." He said it was a sweet victory on a number of levels: for those who had fought for VSU for 30 years; because it came despite Queensland senator Barnaby Joyce's opposition ("he has been shown up with egg on his face"); and because the result came during the annual conference of the National Union of Students. One Liberal student immediately jumped on a plane to fly from Sydney to Melbourne to join the party.

Mr Barendse said he and about 30 other VSU supporters went out in Melbourne on Friday to restaurants and pubs. Later in the weekend he travelled to Ballarat to visit Liberal delegates at the NUS conference. Monash University Students Union president Michael Josem said all students owed pro-VSU campaigners "a debt of gratitude for saving them from these fees". He watched the event live on the internet. "It's excellent," he said. "It vindicates all the efforts people have put in." Mr Josem celebrated the win with a few beers in a restaurant ("nothing outrageous") with friends on Saturday night. He said students would not notice much difference in the short term, but in the long term they would see that services would continue and even improve. "The world will keep spinning," he said. In a statement, the ALSF said students across the country would be "celebrating being released from the shackles of compulsory unionism".

He praised Liberal senators Mitch Fifield and Sophie Panopoulos for fighting for an uncompromised version of the legislation. Mr Barendse said he had been asked to help federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson draft the legislation because "the Government recognised our expertise". "I have no sympathy for the universities and the vice-chancellors who failed to reform themselves; it took the Government to impose VSU on them when they had the opportunity over 30 years to do it themselves," he said.

University of New England Students Association president Samantha Aber praised members of her council who had fought for VSU. "I believe that I could not have delivered a better Christmas present than providing external students who rarely, or even never, visit our campus with the right to chose whether they will fund student union services," Ms Aber said in an email forum.

Outgoing NUS president Felix Eldridge said the union's national conference at the University of Ballarat was stunned by Friday's result. "Things became a lot more positive a couple of hours later after the conference resumed," he said. "We were happy to have it resolved. We suddenly realised what we have to do to save the NUS and other organisations." Mr Eldridge scoffed at claims by Mr Barendse that Left attacks on Liberal students forced the early closure of the conference.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


No comments: