The comments made by Michael Gove, the then Secretary of State for Education, on 26 March 2013.
We must all do more to ensure a greater number of students from poorer backgrounds go to our best universities. More state schools must learn from the best and provide a strong grounding in rigorous subjects for more students. The Government is helping with more support to recruit highly-qualified teachers in these critical subjects, such as physics, chemistry and maths. But universities must play their part too.
The problem is not elitism or snobbery. Quite the reverse. Too many people in higher education are not honest about the subject and qualification choices which prepare students best for university study. Privately, academics will complain about the failure of prospective students to take demanding courses in maths, natural sciences, languages or the humanities but publicly they do not properly advertise that some courses and qualifications are better preparation for higher study. In many cases independent schools have the connections – and knowledge – to play the system while state school students lose out. Universities should provide clear and unambiguous guidance – without fear or favour – on the best preparation for their courses and then allow merit to dictate entry.