CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

EDUCATION – UNIVERSITY ADMISSION POLICY – 25 October 2004

Dr Julian Lewis: I listened carefully to what the Minister just said. He said that entry would be on merit including aptitude. That suggests that merit will have to be calculated by other factors as well as aptitude and that those other factors might overrule aptitude. What consideration have the Government given to the famous Bakke case in America? It was a defining case where somebody was refused admission to an institute of higher education and then discovered that he had scored higher marks than someone who had been given a place. The courts in America, in a keynote ruling, decided that that was an invasion of the individual's rights and instructed that that must never happen again.

[The Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education (Dr Kim Howells): I am sorry to have to disappoint the hon. Gentleman about that. I do not know about that case. I will try to read about it. The hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale, who spoke from the Opposition Front Bench, and many others, through interventions, have pointed out that the best indicators are those A-levels that we have; no question about it. However, there are circumstances sometimes – it must be left to the universities in question to decide what those circumstances are – here other things should be tested as well as a straight A-level result. That is important.]