The Oxford University application process goes like this: you fill in an application form, attach a sample of your work relevant to the subject you’ve applied for along with a teacher’s reference. If you’re in luck, they invite you for an interview and entrance examination which takes place over a couple of days, while you stay as a temporary guest in the halls of residence at the Oxford college you chose, or were assigned to. You then get either a rejection or acceptance letter in the post some weeks later.
Miss Elly Nowell, pictured, had other ideas. She decided that she would turn her nose up at Oxford immediately after the interview. You see, she’s just too grand for one of the best universities in the world, as her the rejection letter she wrote to Oxford indicates.
Ms Nowell’s letter began: “I have now considered your establishment as a place to read Law (Jurisprudence).
“I very much regret to inform you that I will be withdrawing my application.
“I realise you may be disappointed by this decision, but you were in competition with many fantastic universities and following your interview I am afraid you do not quite meet the standard of the universities I will be considering.”
Should the university wish to “reapply”, her letter continued, “while you may believe your decision to hold interviews in grand formal settings is inspiring, it allows public school applicants to flourish… and intimidates state school applicants, distorting the academic potential of both”.
Someone should study how it is teenagers manage to cultivate and refine smugness, arrogance and condescension to the highest level, because it’s a talent that really does peak in this age group and afterwards declines at varying speeds depending on the kind of person you are.
But yes, Elly, you’re right. It’s appalling that Oxford chooses to interview students in its college buildings which have existed for centuries, are some of the most glorious architecture to be found in Britain, and are steeped in history and the presence of the great and good who passed through its doors. Down with this sort of thing, I say! Bring in the bulldozers, and wipe out centuries of history, beauty and achievement so that snotty teenagers may avoid being exposed to those things…sorry, avoid being ‘intimidated’, I mean.
She said: “It was while I was at interview that I finally noticed that subjecting myself to the judgement of an institution which I fundamentally disagreed with was bizarre.
“I spent my entire time there laughing at how seriously everything was being taken.“
It’s at this point that I wish I could reach through the screen and smack this horrible, bratty little bitch silly.
There’s an unfortunate tendency amongst the British left to treat the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and their graduates with contempt because a majority of attendees are wealthy ex-public schoolkids. Never mind that these universities are the best in Britain, are the only British universities to feature on the world’s top universities list, that they offer an exemplary standard of education, have resources like the extraordinary Bodleian Library (Oxford) or the Botanical Gardens (Cambridge). No, instead the attitude is: they’re elite, therefore they suck.British left-wingers, in other words, behave ironically exactly as US right-wingers do towards the Ivy League.
Instead of constantly knocking them and making fun of ordinary kids who want to go to Oxbridge, we ought to be applauding these dreams and fighting to make it easier for state school and poor kids to achieve them. And it’s precisely because there are so many students who would dearly love or have loved to have the opportunity to go to these educational utopias that Elly Nowell’s little stunt makes me so angry. She was given an opportunity…and she spat on it, before declaring it never meant anything to her anyway.
Ms Nowell admitted that her email was not meant to be taken 100% seriously.
She said: “Oxbridge is a fairly ridiculous and prominent elitist institution, yet unlike the monarchy or investment bankers it is rarely mocked.
“Even comedians tend to avoid Oxbridge as a subject.
“Being a successful student should depend on the student, not on whether or not a couple of academics have deemed you to shine in a twenty-minute interview.”
So basically: she messed Oxford and busy academics’ time around for a cheap laugh. Seriously, fuck you.
As I’ve pointed out above, this is absolute bollocks. Oxbridge gets mocked all the time, both in good-natured Stephen Fry’s dig at Rowan Atkinson in Blackadder: “Oxford’s a complete dump”, anyone?) and mean-spirited ways. But yeah, it’s elitist. Fuck yeah, it’s elitist! Because elitism isn’t necessarily a bad thing! What people forget is that while the university’s make-up is skewed in favour of those from privileged backgrounds, it doesn’t let people in for being rich. It lets people in for being really bloody smart.
And, Elly dear: if you carry that “a twenty-minute interview shouldn’t decide your fate” attitude into the job market…in your case it won’t be the Tories’ fault that you can’t get a job.