Oxford University has expressed uncertainty over a government-proposed plan to introduce a post-qualification admission (PQA) system, despite being encouraged to back it by the Department for Education and Skills.The Director-General for Higher Education at the DfES, Sir Alan Wilson, outlined a move towards a PQA system in a paper launched on 9 September. In the foreward he states, “Under a PQA system, applications would be made when exam results are known. This would enable students to apply for places that best matched their ability and needs. Higher Education Institutes would consider applications on the basis of more accurate information about students than at present. This would allow them to make better quality decisions, based on reliable and fair assessment of each student’s ability.”Oxford University is amongst the institutions showing resistance to the PQA plan. A spokesperson for the University told Cherwell that Oxford “supports the idea [of PQA] in principle as long as it does not affect the University’s ability to maintain a high calibre of students. The fair way to do things is to assess everyone at once and give all the places at once, and the proposals wouldn’t allow that”. The University is still to respond formally to the PQA proposals sent out over the summer.Currently students are accepted by universities based on predicted grades, over half of which turn out to be incorrect according to a recent study by the Sutton Trust. The same study claims that the current system has disproportionately negative effects for students from lower-performance schools, as they are more likely to be predicted grades below their actual achievements.Under the PQA plan, universities would offer places to students at two different times during the year. The first offers would be made, as they are now, based on predicted grades and other achievements. However, universities would be required to set aside a stipulated number of places available only to students applying after the release of their final examination results.Wilson spoke about the implementation of the potential changes, “We are clear – and all the soundings we have taken so far confirm our view – that it is not the Government’s role to impose or to be primarily responsible for implementing change.“We heard strong arguments though that such a complex and far-reaching programme of reform is unlikely to be successful if it is left to develop in a wholly piecemeal fashion. We suggest that there is a clear need for leadership and co-ordination of the reform programme and that this role is for the various sector stakeholders acting in partnership.”ARCHIVE: 0th week MT 2005
More than 60 people have been killed and another 60 wounded in fresh violence in the West Darfur region of Sudan, UN officials announced Sunday.Around 500 armed men attacked Masteri Town, north of Beida, in Darfur on Saturday afternoon, said the statement from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).The attackers targeted members of the local Masalit community, looting and burning houses and part of the local market, the statement added. “This was one of the latest of a series of security incidents reported over the last week that left several villages and houses burned, markets and shops looted, and infrastructure damaged,” said the statement, from the OCHA’s Khartoum office.Following Saturday’s attack on Masteri, around 500 local people staged a protest demanding more protection from the authorities.Members of the Masalit community said they would not bury their dead until the authorities took action, said the OCHA.On Sunday, Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said the government would send security forces to the conflict-stricken region to “protect citizens and the farming season”. Topics : His announcement came two days after gunmen in the region killed at least 20 civilians, including children, as they returned to their fields for the first time in years, the latest in a string of violent incidents.The recent killings have targeted the African farming tribes in conflict with the nomadic Arab tribes over the land.”The escalation of violence in different parts of Darfur region is leading to increased displacement, compromising the agricultural season, causing loss of lives and livelihoods and driving growing humanitarian needs,” said the OCHA statement.