Ancient insurance

September 12, 2013

Siana Bangura (Letters, 29 August) and Peter Millican (5 September) miss the point in the Oxford or Cambridge Ucas debate. The ability to apply to both ancient universities simultaneously never need imply an equal obligation on both to pursue full process for all candidates.

In 1975, against much advice that it was pointless, I insisted on the University of Cambridge as my first choice and the University of Oxford as my second, followed by three highly reputable universities in the South of England. I was interviewed that December at the Cambridge college my (local state) school had proposed by an extremely late, highly eccentric and really rather unpleasant elderly tutor. Although it was a big disappointment to be emphatically rejected, in truth I was greatly relieved, given the dislike we had evidently taken to each other and the nagging realisation that I could have been very miserable.

But having subsequently achieved the full slate in my A levels, I was invited in August to visit the Oxford college (where I subsequently took two degrees) to be interviewed by two charming, polite and engaging young tutors. Two offered candidates had failed to attain their grades; since Oxford was on my Ucas form, would I by any chance be able and willing to come in six weeks’ time? I was thrilled to accept.

Cambridge and Oxford admission will always be highly unpredictable for individual candidates. In my main subject, Cambridge regarded itself as entirely superior. I should have put Oxford first, but my parents and school had persuaded me to try for Cambridge and I did not want to disappoint. Insurance policies rarely pay off and obviously rightly, but that is never a reason not to insure, or to be allowed to insure. The option open to me – despite being rarely of practical value, I accept – should now be reinstated.

Mark H. Robson
Honorary research fellow
Lady Margaret Hall
University of Oxford

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Professor-Keith Cameron Chair of Australian History UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN (UCD)
Senior Procurement Officer UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF SCOTLAND
Clinician, Small Animal Emergency Services UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN (UCD)
Director COVENTRY UNIVERSITY COLLEGE

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016