What do I mean about abolishing the Oxbridge system? I don’t mean bulldozing the universities – and their beautiful quads – into rubble. There is an argument about transforming the universities into purely postgraduate institutions, and I am sympathetic to that.
But, to begin with, I would dispense with the interview system, which is biased towards the more articulate – and the more articulate are those who tend to be more middle-class and have benefited from “cultural capital” passed on from their parents. They are not, necessarily, automatically brighter than those who have benefited from far fewer resources.
Then I would completely overhaul the admissions system. George Monbiot suggests offering a place to the top one or two every school in the country. That’s a good start to the debate. I remember one privately educated fellow Oxford student (who had been rejected the first time he applied) suggesting that comprehensive school students like myself only got in because of quotas. In actual fact research has shown that students from comprehensives do better at Oxford than those from public schools. More widely, research has shown state students do better at university than those who were privately educated.
But, as well as redressing the balance with the types of schools, admissions needs to take account of class. The top percentage of those who were once eligible for Educational Maintenance Allowance or on free school meals should be offered automatic admissions, for a start.
It’s not just Oxford and Cambridge this should apply to: all the top Russell Group universities should be made to follow suit.
Above all, Oxford and Cambridge should be normalised as universities. The best tutors should be encouraged to disperse across the university system – perhaps with incentives. It is right to have a top tier of universities catering to the brightest students – particularly when they are forced to reflect society as a whole, rather than the brightest rich kids: and that is the model that should be promoted.
But Oxford and Cambridge should no longer be regarded as the nation’s top universities. It’s time to leave the Oxbridge era behind us.
I can see lefties nodding their heads like Churchill the insurance dog at these wise words. But you're ALL entirely wrong.
If you want to know why you're wrong, let me ask some simple questions: given the unlimited financial muscle of the state (with our money), the fact that comprehensive teachers are heavily unionized and largely toe the left's line and given that we had 13 years of Labour paradise with Gordon Brown pissing our money away at the left's tropes du jour:
- why the fuck ARE public schools still so much better?
- why DO the top teachers and top tutors flock to public schools and Russell Group universities?
- why does Oxbridge retain any cachet?
And more importantly, why does someone who would have been a complete and utter non-entity but for his Oxbridge education want to deny other people the same thing?
At no point in his tedious, right-on cockwaffle does the dreadful scumbag attack the heavily unionized teaching profession and the overwrought polytechnics for not getting better so that public schools don't have an advantage or raising the standard of "David Beckham Studies" to compete with a PPE.
It's all about destroying the great to make everyone a nice anodyne shade of beige, with a smug side helping of "I'm alright, Jack, I've been and got all the perks, but heaven forbid anyone else should get a look in."
Unlike Owen Jones, I don't have the advantage of an Oxbridge education. But I don't begrudge anyone else the right to it.
If I was going to bitch about education, I'd be asking why the people who absolutely love sucking Owen's cock are not asking why state education should not be made better, rather than why public school and Russell Group universities should be torn down to the mediocrity that Owen seems to think the rest of us should be moulded to.