The University of Bristol has been criticised by students as it emerges that a scheme created specifically to recruit pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds gave a third of places to private school applicants.Announced in December last year, the scheme promised to drop grade requirements in order to attract poorer pupils, including those who receive free school meals, live in care or have suffered family problems.But it was revealed yesterday that 33 percent of offers awarded under the Scholars scheme were to students taught at independent school, which the university insists meet the criteria of the “widening participation strategy”.Nationally, just 14 percent of sixth form students are educated at independent schools – meaning those with lowered offer grades from Bristol are significantly overrepresented on the scheme. According to a university spokesman, fee-paying students who met the “disadvantaged” criteria included those whose parents had divorced, or had suffered a bereavement in the family.The decision has been met with derision from the university’s state school society, The 93% Club, which said it made “no sense” to include students who already “had the privilege of a private education”.”Although it is not in contravention of the university’s Widening Participation Strategy, we lament the inclusion of independent schools on this scheme,” the group added.”Students from state funded schools will by and large not have the same opportunities that those from independent schools enjoy.” However, Bristol admitted yesterday that just 43 students had been accepted onto the scheme, whilst two state school students were rejected because their grades did not meet entry requirements. No independent school students were turned down.Defending the scheme, Bristol’s head of recruitment, Lucy Collins, said selection focused on unrecognised potential rather than a student’s financial situation. She added that next year the university hoped to select pupils from every school in the city.“At the heart of the Bristol Scholars scheme is the determination to provide opportunities for local students whose potential is not recognised in their predicted A Level results.”Bristol Scholars from independent schools who have been offered places had to fulfil one or more widening participation criteria in order to be selected. For example, they may have faced a disrupted education due to ill health or family difficulties.”This is a pilot year and only a subset of schools applied to take part in the scheme. Our ambition for the future is that all schools in Bristol will submit applications.” Opened to 20 schools in Bristol as part of a pilot programme this year, the Scholars scheme allowed head teachers to nominate five students per school, based on “potential” rather than academic results. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Bristol University criticised after disadvantaged pupils scheme offers third of places to
Last Updated on: September 25th, 2019 at 8:10 am, by