Politics, political correctness and contextual data in English university admissions
Controversy over the appointment of OFFA's new Director has reignited debate over the use of contextual data by selective universities in England. Certain MPs have objected vociferously to supposed "levelling down" of standards.
However, the use ofcontextual data is of course more subtle and nuanced than these fears suggest. OFFA's guidance, advocating the use of contextual data in admissions decisions, is supported by both Vince Cable and David Willetts, as well as (generally) by institutions. But given this latest controversy, what are the risks for universities of using contextual data?
The use of contextual data by selective universities continues to be controversial. In this article we explain why contextual data has to be handled carefully in order to avoid potential legal difficulties, and suggest some best practical tips.