Comment: An End to Oxford Application Fees?

first_imgIf it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, is it a duck? Yes. So if there is something that looks like a barrier to applying to Oxford, and seems to act like a barrier to applying to Oxford, is it a barrier? Not always. The £10 application fee for undergraduate admissions quacks because it is a barrier. But we should be wary of throwing out babies out with the bath water. Or, to hideously combine these already out of control metaphors, rubber ducks with the bath water. There are some extra processes built in to applying to Oxford, like aptitude tests and interviews, that look like a barrier to applying, seem to act like a barrier to applying, but aren’t a barrier to applying. So why don’t they quack?The short answer is that some perceived barriers benefit applicants: they allow Oxford to gain a much greater understanding of a student’s potential, so the University can confidently choose the very best from the brightest. Working out who is really, really good, rather than just really good, when everyone who applies has perfect grades and a treasure chest of extra curricular achievements, is a challenge to say the least. Few universities benefit from this challenge. Oxford needs different admission processes to meet this challenge.By barriers, in the context of admissions, I mean things that block the progress of students of greatest potential, whatever their background. For Oxford to admit the best from the brightest, it must invest in extra stages to get rounded pictures of applicants. After all, academic potential cannot be accurately represented by a series of past achievements printed on a piece of paper. Therefore the University invests more time and energy than other higher education bodies rigorously interviewing applicants. The interviews allow tutors to stretch potential students’ thinking, to analyse their motivations, and to assess whether they will respond successfully to tutorial teaching. Candidates will not receive adequate care and attention from tutors if there are ten people being interviewed per place. To ensure tutors can conduct meaningful interviews, aptitude tests are used in some subjects to help short-list candidates to approximately three per place during interviews. This also prevents students with no chance of getting an offer wasting time and money coming to Oxford. This guarantees that the University admits the very best from its talented pool of applicants.Charging £10 to apply to Oxford quacks, waddles and swims like a duck, and is one that should be shot. The fee is a barrier that discourages students from applying to Oxford, because they see the application as a costly gamble. By charging students to apply, this university encourages a false assumption that life here is more expensive than everywhere else. Considering the relatively small sums it raises, compared to the millions the University invests every year into its access work and bursaries, there is no reason why the University should undermine its good work on outreach by demanding that prospective applicants buy the opportunity to be considered by Oxford.It is inevitable that this fee will go – Oxford is the last remaining University to charge for this – but its demise is also desirable. I believe applications will increase as more talented students apply speculatively; after all, it won’t cost them anything to do so. This will help our work widening access and making sure Oxford University admits the best students, whatever their school, and whatever their background.James Lamming is the Vice President of OUSU.last_img read more

French move to ban prostitution by punishing clients

first_imgBBC News 7 Dec 2011France’s parliament has backed a proposal to fight prostitution by making payment for sex a crime punishable by fines and prison. The National Assembly approved by a show of hands a cross-party, non-binding resolution which is due to be followed by a bill. Six-month prison sentences and fines of 3,000 euros (£2,580; $4,000) are envisaged for clients of prostitutes. Some campaigners reject the bill, advocating prostitutes’ rights instead. Around 20,000 people are believed to be working as prostitutes in France. France has been committed to abolishing the practice in principle since 1960. The resolution said the country should seek “a society without prostitution” and that sex work “should in no case be designated as a professional activity”.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16047284last_img read more

U.S. anti-legalization group urges more access to marijuana research

first_imgReuters 28 May 2015A group opposed to pot legalization is unveiling proposals on Thursday for the U.S. government to ease restrictions on scientific research into marijuana’s potential as medicine, in a first step for an organization of its kind.The plan from Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which is co-founded by former U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy, comes after three U.S. Senators this year introduced a bill that would require the federal government to recognize pot’s medical value and allow states to set their own medical cannabis policies.Kennedy will present his group’s plan on Thursday to officials in Washington, said Kevin Sabet, the group’s president and chief executive.Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana, and voters in four states have gone further by approving the drug for recreational use by adults. But the drug remains illegal under federal law, which classifies pot as a dangerous narcotic with no current medical use.Drug policy reformers say the federal government’s strict rules on marijuana research have prevented needed studies in the United States. With its plan, Smart Approaches to Marijuana is calling for changes to some of those rules.“Let’s put research into the hands of legitimate scientists, not pot profiteers,” Sabet said.The group also is calling for the Department of Health and Human Services to eliminate a review process for marijuana research that critics say is burdensome.And the group says the Drug Enforcement Agency should eliminate certain regulatory requirements for research into cannabidiol (CBD), a component of marijuana seen as having a number of medical applications, and work with states to allow a pure CBD product to be distributed more broadly for research.http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/28/us-usa-marijuana-research-idUSKBN0OD1RM20150528last_img read more