Oxford and Cambridge are undeniably world class universities. The last few months, however, have given rise to considerable public scrutiny as to whether these ancient institutions are out of step with modern Britain. Some critics have argued that Oxbridge closes its doors to a wide variety of students from divergent economic, regional and ethnic backgrounds. Others argue that Oxbridge’s excellence depends on its rigorous standards for academic entry. Many of graduates produced by Oxbridge may become prominent in public life – and are also coming under scrutiny. Are they too similar? Do they suffer from group-think? In short, is Britain being run into the ground by a cosy little elite?
1. Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric magazine and a prominent commentator on politics, public life and history, writing in the New Statesman. He matriculated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1999.
1. Bobby Seagull is a maths teacher, television personality and University Challenge semi-finalist. He has recently published a book on maths teaching, and launched a television series with rival quizzer Eric Monkman. He matriculated at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford in 20023, at Hughes Hall, Cambridge in 2014, and at Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 2015.
2. Promise Knight is a Labour Councillor in Brent, and founder of the the Promise Foundation – an organisation that seeks to promote diversity at Oxbridge. She came to the UK from Nigeria at the age of three, and attended a state comprehensive in Luton – where she had a troubled family background. She matriculated at St Catherine’s College, Cambridge in 2007.
3. Lord Chris Smith was first elected to parliament in 1983. He was the first openly gay MP, coming out in 1984, as well as the first openly gay Cabinet Minister, serving as Culture Secretary in Tony Blair’s first Cabinet. He matriculated at Pembroke College, Cambridge in 1970, and he is its present Master.