University admissions and messy exits | Letters | Education
Bernie Evans asks a critical question about pupils from underprivileged backgrounds and suggests a more generous route into university (Letters, 29 June). We have been in this situation before, decades ago, in the context of adult education. By focusing on women’s return to learning and then access to higher education, we discovered that their children followed them.
The answer seemed to lie in the home as much as school. None of my parents or grandparents went to university. After leaving school, I followed my father into shipbuilding and coal mining. After 15 years of night schools, weekend schools and university extramural classes, I gained scholarships to Ruskin College and Magdalen College, Oxford. My children both went on to university and professional careers.
Those systematic pathways for adults have been lost. Alan Tuckett, an adult education specialist, has asked: “Why has England seemingly set out to destroy adult learning opportunities?” He might have added that for decades the Guardian provided systematic support and coverage of adult education. What happened?
Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
• There may well still be a privately educated bias in admissions to the former men’s Oxbridge colleges, but there are honourable exceptions. As a gauche, just 17-year-old in 1964, I went to Somerville (Oxford) and Girton (Cambridge) for interviews, from a tiny Pembrokeshire grammar school. I didn’t get an offer from Oxford. But two of my interviewers at Girton were scarily glamorous and intellectual Americans with no time for the British class system; another, Dame Gillian Beer, explicitly said that they always discounted for “the Roedean effect”. And yes, they did offer me a place.
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
• During these changeover days for student-rented properties in many university towns and cities, we witness the spectacle of perfectly usable items dumped, awaiting collection and onward passage to incinerators and landfill sites. Last week in one student area I saw plastic kitchen bins and washing-up bowls, pots and pans, framed pictures, a computer monitor and a hairdryer. I can only imagine the level of needless waste across the UK. Have other communities with student populations found an answer to this?
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
• Jeremy Hunt has said he will cancel student loan debt for people who set up successful firms. What about student teachers and nurses? Are they not important enough?
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