Too many Oxbridge graduates at the Guardian?

There is a Guardian article about too many Oxbridge graduates at the Guardian. 600 or so employees or so are questioned on their higher education ‘pedigree’. 167 responded. A majority attended Oxbridge, a fair amount did not attend.

This purportedly thoughtful piece of self examination is a bizarre little report. Oxbridge graduates are asked to comment and ‘the rest’ of the graduates are also asked.

There is a notion set forth quite unproblematically:

Yes, Oxbridge is an elite – but, in theory, it should be an elite selected by ability. To object to Oxbridge graduates having places in government/media/academia should, in theory, be like objecting to the fastest runners getting all the places in the Olympic team: absurd.

Out of 2,720,498 applications to full time degree courses in higher education through UCAS, only 16,225 (0.6%) were made to Oxford. Out of those, 3,378 (0.7%) were accepted.

Is it even realistic to believe that the ‘best of the best’ are the only ones that apply and get accepted? There are applicants with 11 A grades at A Level who are left without a place. All of those who apply to Oxford and Cambridge (which has a similar number of applications / acceptances) have the grades to get in.

The problem is that there are qualified applicants who wouldn’t apply. There are those who don’t believe they fit in, don’t think they can live that far from home or a myriad other reasons why they don’t apply. Eric Thomas, Vice Chancellor of the University of Bristol, told a host of attendees at a widening participation conference that there are qualified students who refuse to attend the university. That they just can’t get them to accept. They are all qualified, they just don’t want to go to Bristol. The University of Bristol is a selective higher education institution which is one of the Russell Group and one of the Sutton Trust 13.


“I would guess that over 50% of managers at the Guardian attended Oxford or Cambridge, but perhaps this is because the brightest and most ambitious go there, and subsequently succeed in their chosen careers.”

The number of applications is quite small at Oxbridge (half of what the University of Bristol receive) because it is a self-selected pool of applicants  who already know that selection is difficult. The Guardian doesn’t even acknowledge any of these issues. Instead they briefly address and smugly close the question of whether there is a bias.

Not impressed.

[I can provide many references for all the points I’ve mentioned, just ask]

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