A leading British law firm has recently shaken up its application process by implementing a new recruiting process, in an effort to rid any bias towards Oxbridge, Russell Group graduates and those educated at the country’s leading independent schools.
With a graduate starting salary of £39 000 Clifford Chance, one of five law firms who make up the ‘Magic Circle’, has quietly introduced a ‘CV blind’ policy in which staff are unable to see which university or school applicants have come from. Under the new Intelligent Aid scheme candidates wishing to bag a place on the firm’s coveted vacation scheme can submit a 500 word essay on a topic important to the firm with the CV blind policy in force. With an intake of 100 applicants representing 57 different universities, a sharp 30 per cent rise from the previous year, I ask myself is a CV blind policy a good thing?
Clifford Chance recruits from the UK’s leading universities securing the smartest and most able candidates to step into the demanding world of corporate law. Many eminent Law firms, Investment Banks and companies do the same to make sure only the best are selected to fill sought-after graduate schemes. However, if those companies were to all introduce CV blind policies into their recruiting process it really be wouldn’t be fair. Well at least for those at Britain’s top universities. Everyone here at the University of York has worked hard to secure a place at a respected institution to further their future careers, but with a procedure like the CV blind applications in place there are even more hurdles in a world where obtaining a good career is becoming ever more challenging. Students will be left questioning their reasons to gain places at prestigious universities when the same career can be achieved by attending a polytechnic or a mediocre university. The audacity of Clifford Chance masking the hard work students have put in by achieving degrees from top universities is unfair, almost putting them into disrepute.
What many won’t fathom is the stark difference in degrees between certain universities. A law, economics or geography degree at a bottom 50 university is not nearly as challenging or rigorous to that at Oxford or York, even though they may meet the minimum 340 UCAS point requirement. After years studying for a degree students want their achievements to be noted and recognised not cast away that they should be almost penalised for attending a top university but proud to show-off a great achievement from world class institutions.
The reason why Law firms and Investment banks are filled with Oxbridge graduates and those from a small selection of universities is nothing more than these graduates being the most talented and intelligent. Employers target certain universities, with many having campus ambassadors to represent them, due to the institutions forging excellent reputations for teaching and exceptional students who have gained places at the UK’s most selective schools. This isn’t about social mobility, but about those who have worked hard being rewarded. The more I think about it the more I ask myself, ‘Is elitism good?’ …undoubtedly.