Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


More from Gove ...

In every school year there are 600,000 children.

The very poorest are those eligible for free school meals - 80,000 in every year.

And out of those 80,000 how many do you think make it to the best universities?

Just 45.

I checked, and by "the best universities", Gove means Oxford and Cambridge (he had a spat about this factoid with Ed Balls earlier this year). Oxford and Cambridge have an annual undergraduate intake of about 3000 students each (ie, 1% of each school year if we accept the 600k figure), so if children eligible for free school meals were represented in proportion, there would be 800 of them there.

But, take the Aaronovitch Rule: reverse the figure. If Gove's dream were achieved, what happens to the 79,200 children eligible for free school meals who still don't get into Oxbridge? I don't know, but I suspect that the answer might involve the phrase "fuck 'em". This is, of course, the same thinking that names the "Grammar School System" after schools that are by definition not representative of the majority.

When I saw the speech, I initially assumed that "the best universities" meant the Russell Group, which would have been surely more meaningful (although even that wouldn't include York or Durham, which I think most people would include in that group). The Russell Group between them take in 75,000 undergraduates every year, so scaling that up would give you 10,000 new undergraduates at RG universities who had been entitled to free school meals. That actually would be a pretty radical and meaningful egalitarian move; I would still personally be asking awkward questions about the remaining 70,000 and still making the point that elite universities aren't a sensible metric, but ten thousand people a year moving from the bottom decile to (first approx) the top quintile would not be hay. Is that Gove's actual target? I suspect we'll never know and also suspect he's never considered it, because for some people it's Oxbridgeford[1] or nowt.

Update: yes, I know, done it before. I think once every five years is about the right frequency for a trip round this particular mulberry bush.

[1] Let's not kid ourselves here.
19 comments this item posted by the management 10/12/2010 01:42:00 AM

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