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Oxford University re-writes 'wealth test'

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Oxford University - one of the world's best known educational establishments - has been forced to re-draft its admissions policy to ensure it is not...

Oxford University - one of the world's best known educational establishments - has been forced to re-draft its admissions policy to ensure it is not perceived as discriminating against students from poorer backgrounds. Oxford has abandoned a so-called "wealth test" for postgraduate students applying to its colleges after a student had sued the British institution on the grounds that it was skewed in favour of the wealthy.

From this year, applicants will need to show they can meet their tuition fees for their first year, doing away with the requirement to provide financial evidence that living costs can also be met.
The change follows a legal challenge earlier this year by 27-year-old Damien Shannon, exposed by the 'Observer' newspaper.
He had sued Oxford's St Hugh's College on the grounds that the requirement to prove liquid assets sufficient to cover 12,900 pounds a year in living costs was unfair on the less financially well off students.
Students with a conditional place at the university, selected on the basis of their academic merit, were expected to demonstrate that they had access to considerable funds for their living costs, above and beyond the already significant cost of fees.
The university had also been refusing to take into account projected earnings from students who planned to carry out paid work during their course.
Oxford has now abandoned what was previously called the "financial guarantee" in favour of a watered-down "financial declaration", which expects applicants to provide evidence of funds to cover fees for the first year of a course and merely to "give your assurance that you are able and willing to meet your living costs for the duration of your course (no financial evidence is required)".
Shannon's battle seems to have been worth it and he is expected to attend St Hugh's in October for the one-year MSc in Economic and Social History course to which he originally applied last March. "The financial declaration aims to ensure that students are fully aware of the expected fees and living costs associated with their graduate study at Oxford, and is still intended to prevent students dropping out during their course, which is in the interest of both the welfare of individual students and of the institution," an Oxford University spokesperson said. -Agencies
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