Ben Sachs, "Fair Equality of Opportunity and Low-Income Quotas in University Admissions"

In 2012 the U.K. government created a rule for English universities that wished to charge the maximum £9000/year in fees—a rule requiring them to set aside a certain number of places in each incoming class for students from state schools.  The purpose of the rule was to increase the number of students from low-income families at universities.  This paper will assess whether the government’s action in this case was morally permissible.  It will focus to a great extent on the principles of meritocracy and fair equality of opportunity, as the latter has often been invoked in favor of the rule and the former in opposition to it.  It will also bring the American perspective to bear on the issue.  The United States Supreme Court has said many times that admissions quotas in state-funded universities run contrary to the principle of equal treatment under the law; I will examine whether this constitutes a good objection to such quotas.

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