Select Committee on Education and Employment Fourth Report


PROCEEDINGS OF THE COMMITTEE RELATING TO THE REPORT (continued)

Question put, That the paragraphs be inserted in the Report.

The Committee divided.


Ayes, 3Noes, 7
Mr Richard AllanMs Candy Atherton
Mr Stephen O'Brien Mr Derek Foster
Mr Nick St AubynMr Michael Foster
Helen Jones
Judy Mallaber
Mr Gordon Marsden
Mr Ian Pearson

Paragraphs 37 to 39 read and agreed to.

Paragraph 40 read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraph 41 read and agreed to.

Paragraph 42 read, amended, and agreed to.

Paragraphs 43 to 45 read and agreed to.

Paragraph 46 read, amended, and agreed to.

Paragraphs 47 to 61 read and agreed to.

Paragraph 62 read, amended, and agreed to.

Paragraphs 63 to 67 read and agreed to.

Paragraph 68 read, amended, and agreed to.

Paragraphs 69 to 86 read and agreed to.

Paragraph 87 to 91 read and agreed to.

Paragraph 92 read, amended, and agreed to.

Paragraphs 93 to 97 read and agreed to.

Paragraph 98 read, amended, and agreed to.

Paragraphs 99 to 106 read and agreed to.

Paragraph 107 read, amended, and agreed to.

Paragraph 108 read as follows:

"We do not see the necessity to give special treatment to England's two oldest universities within a national university admissions system. The special status enjoyed by Oxbridge might also act as a deterrent to applications. It is therefore unhelpful for UCAS to set Oxbridge apart by setting a separate and earlier date each year for applications to those universities, which only reinforces the out-dated idea that Oxford and Cambridge are set apart from the rest of the higher education sector. We recommend that UCAS should apply the same closing date to applications for all universities, including all medical and veterinary schools. This reform should be introduced at the earliest possible date."

Amendment proposed, in line 7, at the end to insert the words "subject to consideration of any practical obstacles."—(Mr Nick St Aubyn.)

The Committee divided.


Ayes, 2Noes, 8
Mr Stephen O'Brien Ms Candy Atherton
Mr Nick St AubynMr Derek Foster
Mr Michael Foster
Dr Evan Harris
Helen Jones
Judy Mallaber
Mr Gordon Marsden
Mr Ian Pearson


Paragraph agreed to.

Paragraph 109 read as follows:

"We believe that the present college-based admissions system might be a significant barrier to the timely response to criticisms of the low proportion of suitably qualified students from lower socio-economic backgrounds admitted to many colleges. The college-based system of admission to Oxbridge should not be used as an excuse for inaction. We recommend that HEFCE's performance indicators for Oxford and Cambridge should be dis-aggregated to college level so that the performance of each college in widening access can be assessed."

Motion made, to leave out paragraph 109 and insert the following new paragraphs:

"We did hear arguments that the complexity of the structure at Oxford and Cambridge—with the custom of applying through individual colleges, rather than through the university—acted as a deterrent to potential applicants. The witnesses from Oxford, however, were strongly of the view that their system contained many more strengths than weaknesses. Ms Minto told the Sub-committee: "It allows the applications to be dealt with on a certain economy of scale, so that we can give applications individual attention in the way they are not given individual attention in other higher education institutions" (Q. 741).

The underlying case was that to remove the college's right to chose their candidates would undermine the independence of the collegiate system itself. In the words of Professor Marquand, Principal of Mansfield College: "...there are certain advantages in not having a collegiate system but there are enormous advantages in having a collegiate system as well. There is a trade­off." (Q. 776).

The problem of attracting more applicants from poorer backgrounds is not confined to collegiate universities. As Mr Peter Lampl told the Sub-committee: "Imperial is 18 per cent from its benchmark, you find that UCL is 17 per cent from its benchmark. I think the surprising thing about the analysis we did, or that HEFCE did, is that, if you like, the access issues are not related to the collegiate universities but are related to a whole range of universities."(Q. 344).

We believe that the present college­based system at Oxford and Cambridge is part of the diversity of our higher education provision. The ability of colleges to target groups and to form close relationships with maintained schools is a proven benefit of their system.

Oxford University commissioned research from the National Foundation for Educational Research Study on the reasons why suitably qualified students from the maintained sector might not apply to Oxford. The NFER study found:

  • the most common reason for applying to Oxford and Cambridge was the prestige of the institutions; other reasons were the courses on offer, the quality of the Oxbridge degree, the reputation of the two universities, and the teaching methods used (i.e. the tutorial system inherent in the college structure);

  • Application procedures were not felt, by the great majority of applicants, to have influenced their decision whether or not to apply;

  • teachers' views on deterrents to application rested largely on social factors (i.e. not application procedures or the college system).

Those not familiar with the system may however feel at a disadvantage in the application process. It is therefore essential that applicants who apply through the university are given an equal opportunity to those who apply through a college. We recommend that the relative success rate of university and college applicants be carefully monitored and the aggregate results be published.

We recommend that for Oxford and Cambridge HEFCE's performance indicators, at least for those relating to the socio­economic backgrounds candidates who apply and are admitted, should be dis­aggregated to college level so that the performance of each college in widening access can be assessed."—(Dr Evan Harris.)

Motion made, and Question put, That the paragraphs be read a second time.

The Committee divided.


Ayes, 4Noes, 7
Mr Richard AllanMs Candy Atherton
Dr Evan HarrisMr Derek Foster
Mr Stephen O'Brien Mr Michael Foster
Mr Nick St AubynHelen Jones
Judy Mallaber
Mr Gordon Marsden
Mr Ian Pearson

An Amendment made.

Paragraph, as amended, agreed to.

Other paragraphs—(Dr Evan Harris)—brought up, and read the first and second time.

Question put, That the paragraphs be inserted in the Report.

The Committee divided.


Ayes, 5Noes, 4
Mr Richard AllanMr Derek Foster
Dr Evan HarrisMr Michael Foster
Mr Gordon MarsdenHelen Jones
Mr Stephen O'Brien Mr Ian Pearson
Mr Nick St Aubyn


Paragraphs inserted (now paragraphs 110 and 111).

Another paragraph—(Mr Nick St Aubyn)—brought up and read, as follows:

"The Committee believes that the key to widening access is first and foremost to encourage more from less well-off backgrounds to enter the sector. The second thrust is to ensure that applicants have a range of high quality courses from which to chose, regardless of the institution to which they apply. We have seen plenty of evidence of the latter in the course of our enquiry. We believe that the Government must now address the reasons why the numbers entering higher education from poorer homes have stopped growing since 1997."

Motion made, and Question put, That the paragraph be read a second time.

The Committee divided.


Ayes, 4Noes, 6
Mr Richard AllanMs Candy Atherton
Dr Evan HarrisMr Derek Foster
Mr Stephen O'Brien Mr Michael Foster
Mr Nick St AubynHelen Jones
Mr Gordon Marsden
Mr Ian Pearson

Paragraphs 110 to 114 (now paragraphs 112 to 116) read and agreed to.

Annex 1 read, amended, and agreed to.

Annex 2 read and agreed to.

Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Education Sub-committee relating to the Report be annexed to the Report.

Motion made, and Question put, That the Report, as amended, be the Fourth Report of the Committee to the House.

The Committee divided.


Ayes, 6Noes, 4
Ms Candy AthertonMr Richard Allan
Mr Derek FosterDr Evan Harris
Mr Michael FosterMr Stephen O'Brien
Helen JonesMr Nick St Aubyn
Mr Gordon Marsden
Mr Ian Pearson

Ordered, That the Chairman do make the Report to the House.

Ordered, That the provisions of Standing Order No. 134 (Select committees (reports)) be applied to the Report.

Several Papers were ordered to be appended to the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Education Sub-committee.

Ordered, That the Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Sub-committee be reported to the House.—(The Chairman.)

Several Papers were ordered to be reported to the House.


 
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Prepared 8 February 2001