Middle class parents whose offspring have been rejected by Oxford and Cambridge universities have used Freedom of Information Act requests to find out why the reasons for their child’s failure, it has been claimed.
Pushy middle-class mothers and fathers are requesting detailed feedback on their sons’ and daughters’ exam performance, interviews and the reasons an offer wasn’t made.
A source close to Cambridge admissions told the Times: ‘Freedom of information has given them (parents) another weapon to find out why an offer wasn’t made, and more are using it to access information.
Pushy middle-class mothers and fathers are requesting detailed feedback on their sons’ and daughters’ exam performance, interviews and the reasons an offer wasn’t made [File photo]
‘There are only a fixed number of places on offer and competition has become more fierce as numbers applying have gone up.’
The claims were made as Oxford and Cambridge Universities face growing pressure to let in greater numbers of students from diverse backgrounds.
Private school head teachers have suggested that the desire to recruit a wider pool of students has made wealthy parents anxious.
One leading head told the newspaper: ‘People are becoming more aware of universities using ‘contextual data’ and this is leading to the perception that some students are starting to be ‘reverse discriminated’ against.
The claims were made as Oxford and Cambridge Universities face growing pressure to let in greater numbers of students from diverse backgrounds. Oxford University’s Merton College is pictured above [File photo]
‘At some point there will undoubtedly be legal challenges and if one of them is successful the floodgates will open.
‘Requests are increasing at all schools. The real game changer was tuition fees.
‘Now, higher education has become hugely expensive… this means there is an increasing focus on the subjects studied and on the status of the university.
‘Add to this the increasing willingness to seek personal information and to make comparisons, and you have a bit of a perfect storm.
‘Universities will need to be absolutely sure that their admissions policies and practice stand up to legal scrutiny.’
Helen Pike, head of the £18,000-a-year Magdalen College School, Oxford, whose pupils managed to secure an impressive 46 offers from Oxbridge colleges this year, said both universities had complied with requests from parents of children who were rejected and sent them feedback.
But she added: ‘Feedback culture is a drain on organisations. The burden cumulatively outweighs the benefit to the individual in my view.
‘Parents will be keen to have it – but should they be? And there’s the question of how frank/truthful it will be.
Private school head teachers have suggested that the desire to recruit a wider pool of students has made wealthy parents anxious. Cambridge University’s Clare and King’s College is pictured above [File photo]
‘There’s a danger of inventing spurious negative reasons why people don’t succeed when often candidates were quite deserving and perfectly worthy of a place but in a strong field.’ Another teacher from a leading school added: ‘Requests for feedback are becoming more intense from all prospective students.
‘There have also been periodic calls for test scores to be not only released but subject to appeal.
‘In asking what has been flagged, some applicants might reasonably be checking for factual inaccuracy.’ Cambridge last week announced it will take on poorer students who do better than expected in their A-levels.
The scheme will be open to all students from disadvantaged backgrounds who applied in the autumn and ‘narrowly missed’ out on an offer.
It is estimated around 100 spots will be available when the initiative starts this summer – providing a ‘second chance’ for those with exceptional A-level results.
Oxford and Cambridge both told The Times they complied with requests for feedback on applicants.