BBC addresses University Challenge complaints as viewers spot ‘grotesque’ trend

The BBC has hit back after being criticized for “manipulating” the University Challenge teams. The BBC responded to criticism of the popular question and answer series.

Education professor at University College London Frank Coffield had led criticism of Oxbridge’s perceived bias in the show. He wrote: “Each of Oxbridge’s 70+ universities (even those with just 300/400 students) can compete in the University Challenge.” He added: “But big civic universities like Manchester and Birmingham (with over 40,000 students) are only allowed one entry each.

“What justification does the BBC have for manipulating the program in this way?” she asked. The BBC has issued a statement saying: “All institutions delivering higher education courses at bachelor’s level or equivalent or higher can apply to take part in the University Challenge.

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“Institutions are eligible and welcome to apply to the University Challenge independently of one another.” He added: “All educational institutions that design and deliver teaching leading to university-level qualifications can apply for the University Challenge independently.

“This is not limited to Oxbridge colleges, but also includes around 300 further and further education universities across the UK, a number of University of London member institutions, and a number of UK conservatories and art schools.” Professor Coffield told The Guardian: “It still doesn’t explain why more than 70 Oxbridge colleges are treated as separate colleges.

“You don’t get an undergraduate degree from Christchurch University, but an Oxford degree. My main criticism still stands and the BBC avoids answering it.” And she added: “The balance is grotesque, inequitable and indefensible.” Coffield urged the National Union of Students to boycott the competition unless the BBC changed the rules to limit each university or other degree-awarding body to one entry.


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