Scouting for university talent

BBC NEWS | Education | Call for more university links "Widening participation in higher education should be seen as talent spotting by universities. This prospectus sets out how we want them to make that happen."

The problem with the typical macro predictors of university (or other) success is that they are often too crude and based on last-decade's research. They might work over large populations but not necessarily work all that well when applied to any given individual. But the idea of 'talent spotting' is very intriguing. Particularly if we go even further and apply the analogy of professional sports scouts as they are known in the US. Wikipedia defines them thus:

Professional sports scouts are trained talent evaluators who travel extensively for the purposes of watching athletes play their chosen sports and determining whether their set of skills and talents represent what is needed by the scout's organization.

It's not that difficult to see what the advantages of using a similar approach in education would be. It would be much easier to target under-represented groups and it would also be much easier for an individual institution to recruit in a way that is much more responsive to its needs rather than waiting on crude incentive-based methods to bring results. Also, experienced individual scouts would probably be much more successful at picking potential 'talent'. Of course, this metaphor does break down eventually but it can at least suggest some potential avenues towards inclusion.