Using personal statements as part of university applications should be scrapped because it puts many state school applicants at a disadvantage, Britain’s first professor of social mobility has suggested – The Times reports.
Lee Elliot Major, from Exeter University, said the statements gave an advantage to teenagers from more privileged backgrounds and they were not a suitable way to judge candidates.
Thousands of young people will have been preparing their statements in recent weeks, as the deadline for standard applications draws to a close on January 26.
Elliot Major said in The Times: “There is growing scepticism of their [personal statements’] educational worth among admissions professionals in universities and the statements have become a systematic disadvantage to poorer students.”
The professor believes the statements should be scrapped and replaced with a series of questions and universities should publish clear criteria for what they want to see in candidates.
He added: “Studies of personal statements have revealed a chasm in quality and style between independent and state school applicants. Independent school applicants were more likely to have well-written statements, with fewer grammatical errors, while state school pupils struggled to draw on suitable work and life experiences. The time has come to ask fundamental questions about their educational worth and the unfairness they create.
“It is increasingly clear they are more a reflection of how much support candidates benefit from rather than genuinely indicating an individual’s passion for their subject.”
Clare Marchant, the chief executive of Ucas, said that reform of the personal statement was “absolutely in our plans” and more support would be provided to students from poor backgrounds.