From the archive - Oxford admissions

24th December 2010 at 00:00
26 January 1962 The university's approach to new entrants leaves schoolmasters and dons in a quandary

The difficulty that will most occupy college tutors at Oxford University this term is that of admissions.

Long established procedures have gradually broken down. Some colleges have abandoned entrance examinations and recruit commoners from scholarship examinations only.

This practice is deplored by many schoolmasters and by dons who retain a vision of "the good commoner", acceptable and valuable not only, or primarily, for his academic record and standing.

Some colleges formed a group and held a group entrance examination in September.

This practice is not welcome to other colleges, who see the departure not so much as an attempt at rationalisation as a ruthless grabbing of the best commoners.

It is no more welcome to many schools, who dislike an examination at the beginning of the academic year and immediately after the summer holidays.

In addition, many dons think it better to fill from entrance examinations such commoners' places as have not been given to runners-up for scholarships, rather than the other way round.

Yet another proposal is to form joint scholarship-entrance groups, but it seems that the administrative and examining difficulties of this scheme have not been thoroughly investigated.

The vice-chancellor, Mr ALP Norrington (pictured left), will need all his administrative skill, charm, and soothing chairmanship this term.

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