IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


VIRTUAL EVENT: Rethinking merit in pursuit of fairer admission to universities in England

14 January 2021, 2:00 pm–3:00 pm

Student in a library. Image: bantersnaps via Unsplash

This webinar presents findings from a Nuffield Foundation funded research project which explored how selective universities in England conceived of ‘fair admission’, both before and after the call to 'rethink merit’.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Centre for Global Higher Education

The higher education regulator has recently encouraged England’s most academically selective universities to engage in a process of ‘rethinking how merit is judged in admissions’ (Office for Students). 

This will require a shift away from the traditional ‘meritocratic equality of opportunity’ model of fair admission. A model which states that university places should go to the most highly qualified candidates irrespective of social background. 

It will instead require a shift towards an alternative ‘meritocratic equity of opportunity’ model. A model which states that prospective students’ qualifications should be judged in light of the socioeconomic circumstances in which they were obtained. 


About the Speaker

Vikki Boliver

Professor of Sociology at Durham University

Vikki is also a member of the Higher Education and Social Inequality research group at Durham University.

She researches socioeconomic and ethnic inequalities in rates of acceptance to highly selective UK universities among comparably qualified applicants. 

Her research prompted the UK government to require universities to publish detailed admissions statistics annually to increase transparency and accountability.