A new era of Positive Discrimination?

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It was announced today  (22nd May 2012) by Nick Clegg that he wishes for universities to lower entry grades for state school applicants in order to provide a fairer race for degree courses. In his “social mobility strategy”, the deputy prime minister intends to ensure that not just middle class families get into the highly regarded universities and best paid jobs.

I’m not sure what anyone else thinks , but this sounds very much like the the unpopular policy of affirmative action from 1960s America. The JFK policy outraged people when it presided over less qualified minorities overtaking the qualified in job applications in order to fulfill government quotas.

Nick Clegg;Deputy Prime Minister By David Spender, via Wikimedia Commons

I don’t intend to sound like a sniffy nosed public school boy (which I assure you I am not), but Mr Clegg’s plan seems absolutely ludicrous to me. Since when has our country rewarded those who are academically less able than their peers?! Of course I agree with the concept of the Welfare state – helping those who are in need – but this is a step too far. Elevating those who are incapable into courses beyond their proficiency seems like a waste of resources and opportunities for those who actually could excel in these positions.

Clegg has said that he will tell Universities to give places based on ” the basis of an ability to excel, not purely on previous attainment.” This seems like a verbose way of saying “give a place to those who try but don’t succeed” to me. It may be callous and unfair, but in these tough economic times we need people who can succeed in positions of power and responsibility. Taking the safe bet and going for those who are already achievers is, to me, far more logical than this “lucky-dip” mentality the Deputy Prime Minister is championing. If nothing else, his plan seems ridiculously hypocritical considering he went to Westminster School in London (which has produced seven Prime Ministers in its time)  shortly followed by a degree at Cambridge. The fact that he is only in a position to make these ridiculous claims because of a quality education really serves well to undermine his point.

Or, conversely, perhaps he is right; if the quality education he has had is leading him to think that these plans are a good idea perhaps we should have more sensible people in places of power…

  • Dave ‘Danger’ Bosworth

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