Imperial fails test; Full marks for Majid
ALONG with all the students rejoicing that their long-awaited grades had come, and brought with them the offer of a college place, another who already knew his results was excitedly confirming that he will accept a place, after it had seemed he might be denied the right to study medicine.
18-year old Majid Ahmed, from Bradford, obtained straight A grades in all his A-levels, the best GCSE results his school had ever had, and was praised as an exemplary student. But Imperial College, London, decided to withdraw its offer of a place after learning about his conviction for involvement in a burglary as a teenager.
It was an isolated and spent conviction, in 2005, and Majid's fringe involvement in the case was reflected in a four-month community service order which he completed. Since then he has continued making a contribution to the community, volunteering to work with disabled children, and raising £11,000 to provide opportunities for deprived young people in his neighbourhood. This record initially impressed Imperial enough to offer him a place, and Majid worked at a local GP's surgery in preparation for his chosen career.
Then Imperial apparently changed its mind, and it looked like Majid Ahmed's hopes were dashed. With them would go the prospect of persuading other young people from Majid's school and community that hard work and education might overcome the barriers to them achieving anything. It was also a chance to make a dent in the wall of privilege in British higher education, particularly in medicine, where the great majority of places still go to those from well-off professional families.
Imperial was not prepared to take that chance. But Majed persevered. He won support from the local community, and from his MP, Terry Rooney. The Minister of State for Universities, Bill Rammell MP, and the Secretary of State for Education, Ed Balls, expressed support - after all, government is officially committed to widening participation in higher education, even if its policy on loans and fees suggests otherwise. It is also under pressure to do something about teenage crime, and here is a young man showing t
youngsters that you can get out of low-life criminality and do something that is admired and socially useful.
A campaign was set up on Facebook with the slogan "Support Majid Ahmed's right to study medicine!" Then the news came that where Imperial College flunked its test, University of Manchester had stepped in with an offer of a place to Majid.
He has written this letter to supporters:
First let me apologise for the delay in sending this message out. I have been on holiday the last couple of days so didn't really find time to do this because I wanted to sit down and do it properly. Some of you are probably already aware, but some of you may not be, that I have been offered a place to study Medicine at the University of Manchester. It was actually offered to me last week and subsequently a lot of the tabloids and papers covered it on Friday and Saturday last week:
From then until now I have gave a lot of thought about my next step and what I should do now. Well the first most obvious course of action is to accept the place - All I've ever wanted is to get on a medicine course and become a doctor - The University of Manchester has given me a fantastic opportunity to do this and is also a top-class medical school. Although some would say that Imperial College London has a much better medical school, they have rejected me numerous amounts of times and are quite adamant that they are not going to reconsider. I think I can challenge them legally but this would be very expensive and would take a long time to be dealt with. What's more, it is quite clear they don't want to take me on and if I get there now, I will just be persecuted for going to the press and bringing shame on Imperial. Well it's their loss - it isn't really - they'll just fill the place with the next genius on their list.
I have decided that I will take this opportunity from the University of Manchester and excel in my studies (hopefully) and one day graduate to become a fantastic doctor and a leader in the profession. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me and supported me and a great big Thanks to all of you lot who joined the support group.
We can only wish Majid all the best in his studies and professional future, and hope he enjoys Manchester.
If you ask me it's got to be better than Imperial.