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Girl ‘rejects’ Magdalen College, Oxford; University Shrugs

By Periscope @periscopepost

Girl ‘rejects’ Magdalen College, Oxford; University shrugs

The Cloister, Magdalen College. Photocredit: Steve Cadman

Oxford University may be one of the best universities in the world, but it often comes under fire for its admissions: It takes too few black people; too many public school students; there was the Laura Spence “scandal”, in which the student, who’d attended a comprehensive, was rejected despite gaining 5 As at A Level. Whatever the dons of the dreaming spires do, they can’t seem to get it right (in some peoples’ eyes).

Now the university has come under fire in a rather more extraordinary way. Elly Nowell, 19, applied to read Law at Magdalen College, Oxford – but withdrew her application after attending her interview, even before she found out whether she’d been accepted or not. She sent off, according to The Telegraph, a “rejection” letter in which she roundly castigated the college for being ridiculously pompous.

In her rejection letter, she notes that the college’s “traditions and rituals”, whilst being “impressive”, “reflect badly on your university”; also that the “grand formal settings” of the colleges allow “public school applicants to flourish”, whilst state school applicants were intimidated. She finished by saying that she thought Oxford bizarre; and, somewhat strangely, that she’d spent her “entire time there laughing at how seriously everything was being taken.”

The last laugh went to Magdalen, though: A university spokesman said that out of seven pupils who were offered places for Law at the college, only one had been to public school. So there?

Pathetic. Christy Rush, a second year law student at Magdalen, commented on The Cherwell, Oxford’s student newspaper, that “Magdalen can hardly be expected to knock down its beautiful buildings in order to ensure no-one gets ‘intimitated’ … Frankly the whole thing sounds like a pathetic publicity stunt.”

You don’t have to go to Oxford. Liam O’Brien on The Independent pointed out that J K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, was “spurned by Oxford” and ended up at Exeter; Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker got an interview, but “lied about having read Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles.’” Periscope is rather glad about that lie – imagine a world without “Common People.”

“Oxbridge is a fairly ridiculous and prominent elitist institution, yet unlike the monarchy or investment bankers it is rarely mocked,” said Elly Nowell, quoted on the BBC.

Brideshead revisited. “You might think,” said Harry Mount in The Telegraph, “that seriousness was the point of a law degree at a major university.” Should Magdalen build a “separate set of unthreatening, unGothic, unpinnacled interview rooms where Elly would feel at ease?” The problem is that “Oxford colleges don’t stand a chance.” They “fall over themselves to be fair,” but are for ever “condemned to the Brideshead cliché.”

Awe is good. Fomer state school student Gemma Pouncy, who attended Magdalen, was quoted on the BBC, saying that at her interview she did feel “in awe” – “but it made me want to study there more.”

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