One of the shining lights of this United Kingdom of ours is, or rather was, our University system, and the education available therein. Of the ten oldest established universities in the world, two are British; Oxford and Cambridge. They were established to promote and prepare those who were accepted into those hallowed walls for the rigours of a world which was ever-changing. They sought to further the causes of knowledge, of scientific and literary curiosity, of religion and of the world. Readers should note my caveat ‘was’, because, in this writer’s humble opinion; the changes wrought during the New Labour years changed everything. The huge alteration caused by the change from perfectly well organised polytechnics into the new ‘Redbrick’ universities, with the former P.M. Tony Blair driving the expansion with the crazy idea that 50% of all youngsters could and should attain a university degree.
The very ethos of British universities was that they were there to educate the elite; those who were bound to succeed, either in business, science, technology and the arts; or in the slightly grubby world of politics. They searched for students who had and could demonstrate that they had the mental ability to process through the tough world of an undergraduate by producing the necessary grades or results at an entrance examination, and by the results of the higher education system which they had previously attended. The Polytechnics took on the rest of those who wished further education, and succeeded in producing technicians and science-qualified students who were able to do the work offered within British industries.
It seems as though the black Universities Minister just can’t quite state what he really thinks. Sam Gyimah (now there’s a good, solid, old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon name, if ever there was one) was commenting, rather obliquely, on the undergraduate status of certain groups who are accepted amongst the elite universities of Cambridge and Oxford. Seems as though our Sam, (who had never approached my horizon before today; for some strange and inexplicable reason) was getting rather uptight about the numbers, or rather the lack of numbers; of black youngsters who had been accepted for these elite universities.
Sam Gyimah said admissions were focused too heavily on academic performance and needed to ‘take into account a broad range of factors’. Mr Gyimah also said universities should make more use of ‘contextualised’ admissions.
The Tory minister, who became the first black president of the Oxford Union debating society in 1997, claimed that diversity (ah…there’s that magic word again) at the UK’s two oldest universities had barely improved from his student days.
So, is he suggesting, even in coded form, that these Universities, who are six times oversubscribed from a viewpoint of places available, should be giving preferential treatment to black youngsters because they are black; or because they are ‘deprived’, or ‘disadvantaged’ or just plain unable to reach the elevated strata needed to occupy a place at one of these two places of higher thought and learning without a secretive helping hand available to these youngsters by virtue of having a black skin? Is the Universities Minister suggesting, even in coded language, that major universities adopt ‘Affirmative Action’?
Could it be that the Minister is encouraging the narrative that black students are not capable of succeeding without government giving them a special privilege? Normally, I’d give pronouncements such as this a wide berth, but because its from a Minister, and a Black Tory Minister at that; just wait a while before you get the latest ‘Affirmative Action’ scheme being wedged into the elite universities by brute force (a.k.a. Government decree), and they won’t be able to resist it, because its not about ‘affirmative action’ for black youngsters: it’s all about the ‘Diversity’ balance being restored because the secondary education given these youngsters was so bad!
At least New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is being upfront when he states that elite colleges in New York should drop the longstanding SHSAT [Specialised High School Admissions Test], in favour of a plan including new admissions criteria based on middle-school class rank and state test scores. The present admission statistics show that, currently, Asian-American students predominate at the city’s top schools, representing between 61 and 74 percent of enrolment at Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech and the Bronx High School of Science, reports the Post. At Queens High School for Science at York College, 82 percent of students are Asian-American. The Mayor wants to scrap the test because so few black and latino students qualify through the SHSAT procedure. One former college student stated that the only solution was to upgrade the education system itself, so that black and latino youngsters get a better deal in the years before reaching college age, but he doesn’t hold much hope for that to happen, as the Democrats control all the education systems in both City and State.