The debate swirling around admissions to university, and giving students from underprivileged backgrounds lower grade conditions has been a confusing mass of political ideas, but one contentious idea has stood out: it’s only fair to help people from underprivileged backgrounds achieve what they could have achieved had they been born into a rich background ‒ including being given an elite university place ‒ if they can prove that they deserve it and can honour it.
That’s the only fair thing to try and achieve in a world that is, demonstrably, very unfair. Right?
Listen, I get it.
I’m the first person to defend this point of view whenever the raging Tories that are most of the rest of my family/the British establishment come out and talk about pandering to the poor or whatever other crashing nonsense they’re spouting off on that given day. And, heaven forfend, I often find myself to be the only person round a table who still usually agrees with Nick (Clegg, in case there’s any doubt here). But not today.
Because, I don’t think coming from a disadvantaged background means you should automatically get special treatment, or replaces the need for you to just frankly, sit down, and, at the age at which you’re applying to university, do the work. I don’t mean that callously, and I certainly don’t think it’s in any way fair or equal that some people do better at school simply because of the environment they’re in with little bearing on their actual natural intellect.
But at the same time, it’s demeaning to suggest that someone coming from an underperforming school can’t achieve the same, intellectually speaking, as someone from a hothousing public one. I know this, because a great deal of my friends from Cambridge did just that.