I have never actually got round to reading Melanie Phillips' critique of the education system, All Must Have Prizes. However, judging by this recent announcement on the staff email list at the University of East Anglia, it has some predictive value:
We will have two extra seminars on 23/07 and 30/07.
Patricia Esteve (Universitat Rovira i Virgili) will present “Affirmative Action through Extra Prizes” on 23/07 from 4 to 5 pm at ARTS 3.15. The following is the abstract.
Abstract: Some affirmative action policies establish that a set of disadvantaged competitors has access to an extra prize. Examples are gender quotas or a prize for national competitors in an international competition. We analyse the effects of creating an extra prize by reducing the prize in the main competition. Contestants differ in ability and agents with relatively low ability belong to a disadvantaged minority. All contestants compete for the main prize, but only disadvantaged agents can win the extra prize. We show that an extra prize is a powerful tool to ensure participation of disadvantaged agents. Moreover, for intermediate levels of the disadvantage of the minority, introducing an extra prize increases total equilibrium effort compared to a standard contest. Thus, even a contest designer not interested in affirmative action might establish an extra prize in order to enhance competition.