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I WELCOME the recently published report Entry to Higher Education in the 21st Century by Áine Hyland. Many thoughtful suggestions for reform are included.
However, the proposal to have a lottery for oversubscribed courses conjures up a dystopian world in which we humans have programmed computers to make decisions that profoundly affect the lives of young people, but the programme we have written is based on neither logic nor a meritocracy.
If a lottery scheme is adopted, it would mean going from a system where students have some control over how they attempt to get the required points for their chosen courses, to one where they would have no control as random selection would decide which of them got into various courses.
Why would a student even bother trying to do well if entry to their preferred course was decided by roulette wheel? Minimum stake (lowest points) could be rewarded with maximum gain (offered a place) and maximum effort (top points) could be rewarded with nothing (no place offered) — a gambler’s paradise.
Random selection is suited to the actual (cash prize) lottery where the shiny numbered balls couldn’t care less whether they are picked from one week to the next. It is not suited to determining the future paths of young people.
R A Hackett
Crosthwaite Park East
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