The most important planks of the coalition’s social mobility strategy are its education and welfare reforms. Raising the standards of state education in this country will give far more children a chance to get on in life. While reducing the number of children brought up in workless households will, hopefully, halt the development of a hereditary non-working, benefit-dependent class.
But these measures will take time to work. Which raises the question of what should be done in the meantime?
One thing would be allowing academics to use discretion in admissions. We don’t expect the England cricket selectors to pick the side based solely on county averages and we shouldn’t expect universities to select pupils purely on exam results. But, equally, universities shouldn’t be pressured to admit students who don’t have the necessary skills to do the course.