Does it really matter whether or not your parents have a degree? Or whether a young person has been in care? These are the subject of two new questions added to the UCAS application entry for 2008.
The care question was approved in a format provided by the Frank Buttle Trust, a charity which is leading an initiative to support the progression of children in care to higher education.
Question format: Have you been in care? Yes or No response. (The question will be optional.)
UCAS has also been asked to add a question on whether the applicant’s parents have any experience of HE at the request of the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
Question format: Do any of your parents have any higher education qualifications such as a degree, diploma or certificate of higher education? Yes, No, Don’t know response. (The question will be optional.)
[BTW: I expect it took a committee of University educated folk several meetings to agree that wording.]
My parents didn’t have University degrees – in fact, I don’t think any of my friends’ parents did. Tony – my mum’s cousin – had been to University, and was considered a bit stuck up as a result (and he’d got a good job, married a posh girl and earned lots of money).
But everyone was keen for me to be educated – my mum taught me to read as a toddler and my dad helped with double A level maths homework – although I never have used a slide rule or trigonometric tables since.
I don’t understand the value of knowing the educational achievements of our parents – to discriminate in favour of those whose parents don’t have degrees. Of course, we should encourage a wide range of people to go to university, but does such information really indicate “who has the potential to succeed”.
For me going to University was a big deal – but I didn’t want any special favours in getting there. And as I learned from playing cards and betting on horse-racing with my grandparents as a young child, I wouldn’t want to incur tens of thousands of pounds worth of debts either.