The headmaster of Chester’s King’s School has denied suggestions that universities prefer pupils from middle class homes.
Chris Ramsey was quoted in The Daily Telegraph, following claims by Professor Les Ebdon, director of the Office for Fair Access (Offa), that tutors were tempted to select students from ‘good middle-class’ homes because they were less likely to drop out.
Mr Ramsay, a universities spokesman for the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference said: “It is disappointing to read yet again of a senior commentator accusing universities of social bias.
“The only pressure we can see being brought to bear on universities is from pressure groups who would like them to discriminate against ‘middle class’ applicants, which at the moment they are rightly resisting.”
Mr Ramsey told The Daily Telegraph that universities must not be expected to manipulate their admissions to fit a social agenda.
He said: “It is for schools to encourage aspiration. Aspiration cannot be tacked on to teenagers' educational experience through quangos.”
Students all over Cheshire will receive their A level results on Thursday, August 15, hoping to have made the grade for their chosen university.
Prof Ebdon suggested that payments to universities to take more students from poor backgrounds must be protected from government cuts.
“There may well be additional costs for taking on students from disadvantaged backgrounds,” he said.
“To put it bluntly, if you really want to maximise the income of your university, then you take kids from a good middle-class background whose parents can ensure they don't fall into financial difficulty.”
He said the £327million student opportunity fund, which is facing 10 per cent cuts, was vital to compensate universities that do offer places to students who are disadvantaged.
Ministers have encouraged universities to offer more places to working class students from less successful schools.
Tutors have been told to take account of students’ backgrounds and offer places to candidates with potential from disadvantaged schools on the basis of lower A-level results than those achieved by privately-educated pupils.
Up-to-date A level results from Cheshire West and Chester schools will be posted live on the Chester Chronicle website on Thursday.