An Oxbridge tutor has suggested future candidates would be better chosen by "putting their names in a bowl" and picking them blindfolded rather than the current interview system.

Professor Miles Hewstone, a don at Oxford's New College has questioned the long-standing process of admitting students into two of Britain's most prestigious universities.

The social psychology tutor criticised the interview system at Oxford, asking: "Oxbridge admission tutors are, uniquely, committed to interviewing all their best candidates. Should we be doing this or would we be better off putting the short-listed candidates names in a bowl and seeking the services of a blindfolded boy?

"If we find that interviews do not improve our decision-making, we should drop them," he wrote in a piece for the Times Higher Education.

Hewstone added interviews should be consigned to the past if it could not be proved they can predict the future success of students, admitting he had rejected candidates who had then gained first class degrees.

The Oxbridge interviews are notoriously difficult, with pupils being asked questions such as "why do lions have manes?" and "if the punishment for parking on double yellow lines were death, and therefore nobody did it, would that be a just and effective law?"

Oxford has previously published sample interview questions in order to quell potential applicants' nerves.

"We know there are still lots of myths about the Oxford interview, so we put as much information as possible out there to allow students to see behind the hype to the reality of the process," Mike Nicholson, director of undergraduate admissions said in October. "Most interviews don’t involve strange or irrelevant-sounding questions at all."

Sebastian Salek, a student journalist studying law at Cambridge, told us:


Sebastian Salek
.@HPUKStudents True that at final stage all candidates very capable, but doesn't mean care shouldn't be taken to select successful students.

Oxford University said it evaluated the admission process regularly to ensure it is used in the correct way.

"Interviews are really important for picking out people who genuinely have aptitude for the subject. Oxford and Cambridge are so different from other institutions," a spokesman told the Daily Telegraph. "We are not interested in extra curricular activities, for instance, or some of the things that other universities are interested in.

"It is not useful to a history tutor, or revealing of a candidate’s aptitude for history, that they had a part time job and their teacher thinks that they will be a future politician."

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