Anopen letter to Oxford University Admissions is calling for all 2020 offersto be made unconditional. “Once we reach our maximum intake of undergraduates in 2020, we will have to defer entry to 2021 for any additional candidates who appeal successfully and whose place is then confirmed. Our primary concern must be the health and safety of our students, staff and community and it will not otherwise be possible for us to meet ongoing social-distancing restrictions and other challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of Oxford is facing pressure to admitoffer-holders who missed their grades, amidst controversy over A-level results. Unfortunately, we cannot commenton specific figures until places have been confirmed.” TheUniversity previously committed to using its clemency policy if there wasevidence students from disadvantaged backgrounds were unfairly affected by thegrading system. Oxford SU Class Act Campaign backs calls for A-Level grades to be disregarded. A statement said: “Offer holders have found themselves losing their places at Oxford despite having been awarded the grades needed to attend Oxford by their teachers, or having already achieved them in mock examinations. These students have been judged on their socio-economic backgrounds over what they have shown they can achieve to their teachers and their schools.” TheCollege said: “Many members of our college community and beyond haveexpressed their concern for the potential impact of yesterday’s A Level resultson this year’s incoming students. At Worcester we madeoffers in 2020 to our most diverse cohort ever, and in responseto the uncertainties surrounding this year’s assessment, we haveconfirmed the places of all our UK offer-holders, irrespective of their A-level results.” Almost 40% of teacher assessments were downgraded due to a standardisation process based on schools’ previous exam performances. Analysis has shown that students from disadvantaged were hit hardest by the downgrades. A University spokesperson said: “Weintend to take every student who meets their offer grades as well as thosewhere we consider there are mitigating circumstances for them missing theirgrade. As we do every year when grades are remarked, some students may beoffered a deferred place. TheUniversity announced yesterday that unsuccessful offer-holders who appeal theirgrades will not start in 2020. They will have to wait a year beforebeginning their course. Ofqual, the examination regulator,defended its policy, saying: “Without standardisation there was the potentialfor students to be unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged, depending on theschool or college they attended and the approach they took.” The College tweeted: “Following detailed work on a case bycase basis, we’re pleased to have accepted the majority of those who didn’tmeet their offers. Consequently, we’re admitting our largest ever cohort with81% of UK students from state schools.” Hertford College has accepted a record number of offer-holders, with 81% of UK students having attended state schools. This is up from their three-year average of 70%. Over 2,500 people have also signed a petition calling for Oxford to reverse the decision to “take places away from state school ‘near misses’”. “In this extraordinary year, the simplest way forward would be to provide places for all offer holders, as Worcester College has already been able to do. We urge all colleges to consider doing the same.” Worcester College has confirmed that it will accept alloffer-holders regardless of A-level results. It says: “As graduates of Oxford, we write to plead with admissions tutors acrossthe university to show kindness and generosity to the many pupils whosepredicted A Level results were unexpectedly and unfairly ‘downgraded’ by analgorithm.” The letter, signed by nearly 3000 Oxford graduates and students by the evening following A-Level results day, continues: “We are particularly concerned by the disproportionate impact this has had on students from poorer backgrounds. Across the country, 40% of pupils saw their grades lowered by a system which takes into account their school and region in determining the mark they ‘should’ have earned (had they sat an exam). This approach simply reproduces and amplifies the inequalities already baked into our system.” “A key motivation for the designof the approach to standardisation that we took was to remove this potentialinequality and, as far as possible, ensure that a grade represents the samestandard, irrespective of the school or college they attended.” “The University already has detailed plans for students’ arrival to ensure they have a safe and successful year ahead, regardless of their background, personal circumstances, or how they have been directly affected by the pandemic. In all circumstances, the University’s first priority is the health and welfare of our students and staff.
Mar 8, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Albania today became the latest European country to confront H5N1 avian influenza in birds, while US officials reported plans to greatly expand testing of wild birds for the virus in Alaska and on the West Coast this spring.Albanian officials first detected H5N1 in a chicken in a southern village on Feb 23, according to their Mar 7 report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The OIE reference laboratory in Weybridge, England, confirmed the finding yesterday, the report said.The infected chicken was found near the coastal town of Saranda, about 31 miles north of the Greek border, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report. The OIE notification said 60 birds died of the disease. An agricultural official said about 1,000 birds in the area would be tested.Albania becomes at least the 18th European country to have H5N1 outbreaks in birds, judging from the OIE chart of affected countries. Most of those countries have reported their first cases since the beginning of February.In the United States, federal officials concerned that the H5N1 virus will reach North America described plans to test nearly eight times as many wild birds this year as have been tested in the past 10 years, according to a USA Today report.Starting in April, samples from 75,000 to 100,000 birds in Alaska and along the West Coast will be tested by the departments of Agriculture and Interior and by state wildlife agencies, the report said.Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and other officials told the newspaper they expect the virus to arrive on the continent.That assessment was echoed by OIE Director General Bernard Vallat, according to an AFP report today. He told a French parliamentary commission, “The probability of this strain appearing in Australia is very high. The possibility is also very high for the United States and Canada.”H5N1 could reach the United States via infected birds that spend the winter in Asia and migrate to Alaska in spring, Frank Quimby of the Department of the Interior told USA Today. During the summer, the birds from Asia could pass the virus to birds that migrate south in the fall, said Nicholas Throckmorton of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. He said he wouldn’t expect the virus to move south until August or later.Scientists will test birds by capturing them in nets and taking swabs from the throat or cloaca, the story said. Birds killed by hunters will also be tested in Alaska this spring and in West Coast states in the fall.In other developments concerning H5N1 in animals:Two more dead cats in Germany were found to be infected, according to an AFX News report last night. The cats were found on the same Baltic island where the first infected cat was discovered last week.The virus reached poultry farms in three more states in Nigeria, according to Bloomberg News. Local tests confirmed the virus on commercial and backyard farms in Anambra, Benue, and Rivers states. The latter is in the oil-producing Niger delta region. An Italian lab will run confirmatory tests, the report said.See also:Albania’s report to the OIEhttp://www.oie.int/downld/AVIAN%20INFLUENZA/A2006_AI.php