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first_imgStudents have expressed frustration over the questions and comments of a parliamentary committee toured Oxford over the Easter vacation.The Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills (IUSS) select committee visited Said Business School and Oxford Brookes on 30th March. While there they grilled a number of students, senior tutors and staff from the two Oxford Universities, including the head of admissions at Oxford, Mike Nicholson.Much of the questioning focused on Oxford’s admissions policy, and there were questions about Oxford employing targets for state school or ethnic minority admissions.Students later criticised the committee, with some saying they seemed to have ‘out-dated’ ideas about Oxford.Jim O’Connell commented: “The MPs seemed quite irritated as, although access schemes were talked about, there isn’t any form of targets or quotas built into the admissions system itself. It definitely sounded as though the MPs were pushing an agenda in this respect, and trying to make out that Oxford isn’t doing enough in terms of access.”Oxford’s official line on quotas is that the University will not use positive discrimination; all candidates who apply are assessed on their academic merit.One student said, “It seemed that they had they had come with an intent of writing a story about an Oxford they experienced 20-30 years ago.”University sources denied that there had been any misunderstanding or controversy at the question sessions. A press Officer said “the government is clear that no University is expected to apply quotas, and Oxford is very clear (in the way that we publish our statistics) about our record”.Laurence Mills, Magdalen JCR President, said the committee did seem to “take on board” what the students said. Yet while the committee accepted their evidence, the students were frustrated that they had arrived at Oxford with such biased views: “It is an example of a wider perception problem at Oxford.”The IUSS committee was formed in 2007 to examine the administration, expenditure and policy of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. They have been conducting an inquiry into higher education since October. The inquiry covers admissions, the balance between teaching and research, degree completion and classification, and mechanisms of student support and engagement.Amongst the MPs on the committee was Dr Evan Harris MP, Liberal Democrat, of Oxford West and Abingdon.Controversy also broke out when the committee toured Oxford Brookes. The relationship between Oxford’s two universities was discussed, and one student expressed anger over a rumour that Oxford students refer to Brookes as the ELC – Early Learning Centre.None of the committee were available for comment and the result of their inquiry is yet to be published.last_img read more