Sunday, August 21, 2005

Oxford to turn away child prodigies

Oxford to turn away child prodigies

"Yinan Wang, the 14-year-old Chinese boy who clinched a place at Oxford University last week, will be the last child prodigy to study there under reforms being considered by admissions tutors.
Despite an almost perennial flurry of headlines on children barely in their teens being offered places, the university is considering an unprecedented blanket rule on minimum ages for undergraduates.

"'The admissions executive is in discussions around whether we should introduction a minimum age of 17 for undergraduates,' confirmed Ruth Collier, a spokesperson for admissions to Oxford. 'We have been pushed to consider it, not because of concerns about whether it is psychologically healthy for children to study here, but because of child protection laws which have come into play this year for the first time.'

"Oxford is the only university in Britain that currently accepts undergraduates who are under the age of 17. Individual colleges decide which candidates they will accept as undergraduates, but Collier confirms that age is rarely, if ever, a factor.

"'It's up to each college who they accept, but if you're the best student for the place and are 14 years old, then the general attitude is "so be it",' said Collier. 'We have always said our policy is entirely non-discriminatory and we are proud of that openness, which we consider crucial to Oxford's ethos, but we have discovered this year that there are heavy costs in having that policy.'"