A-level disappointment, Salman Rushdie attack and Channel migrant crisis fired up Telegraph readers

A warning that A-level students should prepare for disappointment, the shocking attack on author Sir Salman Rushdie in New York and the Royal Navy backing out of Channel migrant patrols outraged Telegraph readers this week.

Below we list some of the most hotly debated talking points from Telegraph readers across our comments sections, letters pages and front page newsletter. You can join the discussion below.

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A level disappointment

Ahead of the announcement of A-level results on Thursday, the higher education watchdog warned students they should be prepared for “disappointment” after exam boards were ordered to clamp down on rising grade inflation.

Students from the “most advantaged” areas faced extra hardship when The Telegraph found they would be the least likely to receive university offers, in an effort to put disadvantaged students first. Readers sympathized with Allison Pearson’s argument about the unfair battle for university places, while others gave their advice to students who do not achieve the desired grades.

@Paul McDaid via Newsletter on the front page:

“As a teacher, the advice I always give is that there is often a place at another institution that is probably the best fit for that student. There is always another opportunity next year via a new application or retake, and that there are fantastic opportunities in the world of work via apprenticeship schemes. They’re not ready to hear that, but it could be the catalyst they need to propel them forward.”

@Eric Blood:

“When my son applied to a Russell Group university he was asked if either of his parents had attended the university. Here are the facts of our case which will never have factored into his rejection, despite his 2A* and 2As .

“His grandfather was a miner who left school when he was 14. His grandmother was a single mother. Each wanted their children to have a better life than they had, so encouraged us to work hard at (public) school, which we did .

“Because of inspiring teachers, my wife and I went on to top universities. We continued to work hard and made our parents proud that we had ‘done better than they had.’

“So we have now ‘damaged’ our son’s acceptance into this world of artificial social engineering.”

@Ann de la Grange Sury, Bath via Forside newsletter:

“In 1983, my son received A-level results which prevented him from studying languages. We suggested that he had two options: to resit or to choose another degree that would accept him.

“He chose to ignore the advice and got a job with a small insurance broker.

“He is now the proud owner of a very successful broking business in the City, having gained experience working all over the world.

“That’s why it probably did him a favor not to get a place at university, as many companies prefer to train a young person who is eager but uneducated.”

@Gregory Shenkman, London:

“SIR – The folly of Britain’s myopic drive for diversity and equality is well illustrated by the discrimination against hard-working, high-achieving middle-class students in favor of disadvantaged students and those from overseas.

“Excellence should be the sole criterion for admission to university. By ignoring this and favoring overseas applicants in particular, our top universities are betraying their function: to bring Britain’s best to become tomorrow’s leaders.

– Disadvantaged students should be judged on exam performance, like everyone else. If they are not, the examination system loses legitimacy.

“Picking winners on social or economic grounds is a very bad idea. It will not lead to a socialist nirvana – but, like all forms of positive discrimination, will simply lower the bar. In a competitive world Britain’s elites must be drawn from top performers , not at the whim of some leftist don.”

Aftermath of the Salman Rushdie attack

Readers joined columnists Tom Harris, Simon Heffer and Nick Timothy to condemn the shocking attack on author Sir Salman Rishdie on stage at an event in New York, with many calling it an attack on liberal society itself.


“The protection for freedom of expression is currently insufficient. The principle must be emphasized that everyone is free to argue for their own beliefs, but not to the point that they can try to deny the same right to others whose views they disagree with. That is what freedom of speech means. Not just for you, or your “side”, but the other side as well.

“Where they seek to do so – whether by direct violence or threats, as with Salman Rushdie or JK Rowling, there must be serious consequences. Both for those directly involved and those who tolerate it or even encourage it.”

@Martin Henry, Happy Easter, Essex:

“SIR – Most people will think the attempted assassination of Sir Salman Rushdie is the most heinous attack on freedom of expression. However, although it is a crime in the UK to knowingly incite racial hatred, universities and other institutions have for some time been intolerant of views that conflict with their own, and many writers and performers have been “cancelled” as a result.

“I hope this horrific attack will focus our attention on the importance of greater tolerance for free speech.”

Crisis in the channel

Following the Telegraph’s revelation that the Royal Navy plans to withdraw from patrolling the Channel to combat illegal migrants, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss responded by pledging to hold the Royal Navy accountable for its role and use “every tool at my disposal” to combat small boats. Readers shared Nigel Farage’s frustrations with Britain’s inability to get a grip on the situation and questioned the effectiveness of the scheme as a deterrent.

@Peter Higgins, Kent:

“SIR – I am a former Director of the UK Immigration Service. There have been claims that the Navy withdrawing its ships from Channel migrant patrols will send the wrong message to traffickers, but disagree. With a record 20,000 illegal immigrants already arriving this year – many of which have been intercepted in mid-channel and then ‘taxied’ to the UK – what evidence is there to suggest that these extra naval vessels have had either a deterrent or deterrent effect?

“In fact, the presence of more vessels could have had the opposite effect: migrants would have known there was an even greater chance of being picked up and given a safe onward journey to the UK, and well aware that they would not be forced to return to France.”

@John Nixon:

“The Royal Navy’s main role is to prevent seaborne invasions of Britain, not to operate as a ferry service from just off the middle of the Channel to the Kent coast. Unless and until they do the job they are paid and expected to do there will be no end.

“But the main strategy should be prevention by not allowing illegal entry in the first place, and a removal of all welfare support for those who enter the country without prior agreement.”

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