Mercy Muroki: Diversity quotas will not solve underrepresentation in education

'They are used as a lazy way to artificially increase diversity'

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The former head of news and current affairs at Channel 4 who has just taken up a role as head of a Cambridge University College has said 93% of the university’s intake should be from state schools to match the proportion of state school pupils in the population.

Dorothy Byrne, who is in her first week heading up Murray Edwards College, an all-women’s college, said that private school students need to, quote “get over their obsession with getting into Oxford and Cambridge.”

Now needless to say Byrne is a classic wokey type, who has likened Boris’ to Putin, and has blamed the current state of the world on white men - so yes she's definitely the sort of person who would take up a post as head of all women's college and start an assault on merit in the first week in the role.

Now I get it - it seems logical on the face of it that if 93% of students go to state school, 93% of students at top universities should be too...

But it's not that simple.

Quotas are a discriminatory, unimaginative tool which act as nothing but a sticking plaster for deeper social wounds.

They are used by HR bureaucrats, management consultants, and diversity advisors as a lazy way to artificially increase diversity.

The reality is that the reason private school pupils have taken a disproportionate 40% of Oxbridge places is not because universities hate working class state school kids, but because the state school system fails the most disadvantaged.

The comprehensive state school system is not a holy grail – it is actually quite a socially exclusive postcode lottery… In fact, “Top state schools are the ‘preserve of the rich" – not my words, the words of the Sutton Trust, a top social mobility charity.

One in five children don’t even leave school with the benchmark of 5 good GCSES, one in four!

The number of state school pupils getting A grades at A-Levels is double that of state schools. So, it naturally follows that more private school kids do get to the top unis - and I'm okay with that, if it means we don't start fiddling with the concept of merit.

Yes, working class state school underrepresentation at top unis is a problem. But not one that cannot and should not be papered over with quotas at unis.