Category Archives: Comment

While papers whine about Oxbridge debauchery, student altruism gets ignored

The Telegraph, 1st March 2017

There’s something quite odd about coming down to breakfast on a Sunday morning, often with a thick head, and glancing at the paper to see that someone else is having a go at the place where you live.

I imagine it’s what it might have felt like to be a spy behind the lines during the war, when newspapers were full of news of your country’s terrible crimes, interspersed with op-eds about how we ought to fight them with all our strength.

I’m not fighting a war, of course, and I might not do any more than have a little chuckle before going back to my fry-up. But there is something oddly obsessive and single-minded about the way news of Oxford, and our fenland counterparts, reaches the press.

From consulting the papers, you might be forgiven for thinking that we spend most of our time celebrating the empire, campaigning against people who celebrate the empire, getting drunk in eighteenth-century period dress and burning money in front of homeless people.

Continue reading While papers whine about Oxbridge debauchery, student altruism gets ignored

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The NUS’ survey boycott is rash and destructive – it should reconsider or risk betraying its members

The Telegraph, 23rd January 2016.

It’s around this time every year when final-year students at British universities are sent a survey to fill in, which measures ‘student satisfaction’ with their education at the end of their degrees. The survey data, which is collected independently by Ipsos Mori, feeds into a number of university rankings, alongside other information such as the cost of courses, graduate employment opportunities and the student-to-staff ratio.

This year, the NUS is running a campaign to encourage students not to fill in their forms, as part of its protest against the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which will offer some universities the opportunity to raise their tuition fees. The TEF will use the results of the National Student Survey (NSS) as part of an aggregate rating it will give to universities – either gold, silver or bronze – the better universities will be allowed to charge more.

Continue reading The NUS’ survey boycott is rash and destructive – it should reconsider or risk betraying its members

Sorry, Giles, that’s not the Oxford I know

The Telegraph, 19th December 2016

Something was worryingly familiar about the tone of Giles Coren’s column for the Times this weekend, in which he wrote about the hopeless court case of Faiz Siddiqui, who is attempting to sue Oxford University for its substandard teaching and – by extension – his failure to get a first-class degree.

It was the same refrain I hear from some college alumni, who come back to the dining hall for an overpriced reunion dinner and slur romantically about their ‘Oxford days’ over a pancetta-rolled pigeon breast and too many glasses of Pinot Noir. Continue reading Sorry, Giles, that’s not the Oxford I know

Internal division might be an interesting sideshow, but it won’t get Labour into Government

Cherwell, 19th January 2016

He was first elected in 1983 to a safe Labour seat and was, until recently, in the twi­light years of a career of staunch opposi­tion – even when his party was in government. But Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has done more than just exacerbate the feud between the Blair­ite faces of the last decade and the new students of his ‘politics of hope’. It has raised questions about what it means to lead a party and how an opposition frontbench ought to work. Continue reading Internal division might be an interesting sideshow, but it won’t get Labour into Government

Electing a UN secretary-general takes three months, so why does applying to university take nearly a year?

TES, 10th August 2015

On Thursday, at about 6am, thousands of A-level students will rise from their restless beds and begin refreshing their mobile phones. This will be even more frenzied than the usual social media obsession. It might well be the one day in the year when Facebook or Twitter isn’t the first app checked by the country’s newest adults. On Thursday morning, we’ll be wearing our thumbs out on our email inboxes, furiously refreshing in anticipation of the message that will shape the next few years of our lives. Continue reading Electing a UN secretary-general takes three months, so why does applying to university take nearly a year?

Outfoxed

Bury Free Press, 17th July 2015

Little encapsulates the image of the traditional Conservative gentry more than the fox hunt. This week’s proposed vote on an amendment to Labour’s ban represented a step towards Tory Britain, just two months after their election victory. And yet the issue has turned out thornier than the Suffolk countryside on which the hunts take place. Continue reading Outfoxed