University of Bristol Admissions Controversy

The University of Bristol admissions controversy was a dispute over the admissions process for the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom which occurred in 2003. The dispute was caused by concerns over bias in the admissions system for the University in favour of state school students after the rejection of some students with strong academic records who attended independent schools. The University's widening participation policy allowed the awarding of slightly lower offers to promising applicants from schools with poor academic records. Controversy surrounding this policy resulted in a brief boycott of the University by some independent schools and intense media debate about the fairness of the admissions policy as well as praise and criticism of the policy and the boycott from politicians, student leaders and education groups. The boycott was lifted after two months when the Independent School's Council expressed satisfaction with the fairness of the admissions system. Two years later a survey of independent schools concluded that: "It is likely that rejections which may have seemed discriminatory to parents and schools have in fact, been due to a large rise in suitably qualified applicants" and independent evidence was compiled suggesting that claims of bias were wildly exaggerated.

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