Friday, 6 November 2009

English Universities Top the List

The Best Universities in the World list was always going to get a quick look to see where we were. Pride. Even more Pride, four of the first six (as fifth place was a draw) are English universities; Cambridge, University College London, Imperial College London, and Oxford. The other two are Harvard and Yale.

An international standing like that means international levels of competition to enter any of them. So why has New Labour banned state schools in England from offering international GCSE (IGCSE) courses and examinations? The IGCSE, offered by the Cambridge examinations board, would seem an ideal qualification to obtain for entry into the best universities in the world and put English students on the same footing as applicants from all over. University entrance qualification is made up of GCSEs as well as A-Levels; it might be thought that the possession of international standard GCSEs would balance the common criticism of A-Levels, that they are too narrowly focused in comparison with other countries' advanced school leaving examinations.

Nope, the Balls department is sticking with the less attractive GCSEs, because they cover the curriculum and the international examinations go beyond it. They would, they'd have to when GCSEs stop covering, for instance, photosynthesis. Oh, and we can't go back to an examination system that doesn't serve everybody. At the same time the Mandelson empire is coming out with demands that examination grades should not be the only determinant of university entry. Perhaps not, but curriculum content and satisfactory evidence that a candidate has mastered it should be, which is why so many fee paying schools now use the IGCSE examinations. And is very possibly a contributing factor in the success of their candidates entering internationally competitive universities.

Minds are going to be have to be made up: we cannot have both international status, competitive entry universities and our state school system committed to 'inclusive' curriculums and examinations.


Weekend Yachtsman said...

These great institutions need to go private, now, before the State mucks them up.

Once you take the government shilling, you do the government's bidding.

hatfield girl said...

You should not be surprised, Yachtsman, to hear that Angels are wholly committed to the great state (and international) universities, maintaining that status. More, that the payment of fees to attend them should be immediately removed and that maintenance grants should be provided for those who need financial support during the years of study for their first degree. If you have won a place, poverty should not prevent its take up.

We know that the levels of tax-payer funded government expenditure are enormous. Much of it should be redirected to our famous international educational institutions and ensuring that all students can have a fair crack at getting there and learning there.

Some institutions are secure only when they are institutions of the state; I would argue that the great universities are among them.