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Motion to lobby for a cap on private school admissions rejected at SU members’ meeting

A motion to push for a limit on how many private school students can join the University of Bristol has been rejected by Students’ Union members, following Bristol Annual Members' Meeting.

By Molly Pipe, SU Correspondent

Correction: The article published on 5 March stated that James Fishwick avoided answering questions surrounding the level at which the potential cap on private school admissions might be instituted.

Epigram would like to clarify that in the AMM, Mr. Fishwick stated that an amendment had been submitted to use the ambiguous term of ‘national average’ as the cap level.

Epigram apologises for misrepresenting the way in which Mr. Fishwick responded to these questions.

A motion to limit on how many private school students can join the University of Bristol has been rejected by Students Union members, following Bristol Annual Members' Meeting.

James Fishwick, Chair of the University of Bristol Widening Participation Network, who proposed the motion, stated during the meeting that the cap could be a way to tackle the University's disproportionately low state school admissions.

Mr. Fishwick said that while UoB is aware of the issue, the measures it has taken so far have failed, over many years, to redress the balance.

Image from the 2019 SU Annual Members' Meeting, held in the Richmond Building. It was held online this year | Epigram / Siavash Minoukadeh

The proposal met criticism from those who felt a cap would be unfair, as it could discriminate against people who had no say in what kind of school they had gone to.

It was criticised by opposition as ‘inclusion by exclusion’ - the measure could prevent hard-working students who had achieved the qualifying grades from being able to go to the University of their choice.

However, Tiegan Bingham-Roberts of the 93 Per Cent Club, which supports state school students and students from lower income backgrounds, said that state-educated people were already excluded in many areas of life.

Positive discrimination, she argued, would help reset the balance.

As it stands, 71.3 per cent of Bristol students come from state schools, compared to 90.2 per cent nationally.

Seven other motions were discussed at the Annual Members’ Meeting. These included the introduction of an Anti-Semitism Awareness Week in response to recent allegations of anti-Jewish sentiment at the University.

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The outcomes for the eight motions voted on at the meeting were as follows:

  • Establishing a Student Tenants Union - PASSED
  • Imposing a private school admissions cap - FAILED
  • Introducing an Anti-Semitism Awareness Week - PASSED
  • The creation of a Peer Support Network at the SU and a mental health accreditation scheme for societies - PASSED
  • Officialisation of the Financial Wellbeing Project - PASSED
  • Pushing for paid Postgraduate parental and long-term sick leave - PASSED
  • Lobbying the University for greater support for students with caring responsibilities - PASSED
  • Confirming the proposed amendments to the Articles of Association, and Byelaws of Bristol SU - PASSED

All passed motions will become SU policy for three years.

Featured Image: Epigram / Tom Taylor

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