Downing Street has confirmed that Conservative MP, Jesse Norman, will leave its policy board after abstaining in last week's vote on Syria. The decision to fire the influential Tory is being attributed to the necessity of retaining party discipline and highlighting the fact that three-line whips are to be treated with the utmost respect. However, this sudden dismissal begs many questions...
Many moons ago, when I was a student, there was a real sense of expectation around students who achieved those elusive top grades at A-Level. If you didn't think it was for you, you were still pushed to place an application to Oxford or Cambridge, especially if, like me, you were more a minority ethnic background.
The latest episode in the long-running series of Oxbridge admissions 'scandals' is one of the more dramatic ones.
This media obsession with Oxford and Cambridge... creates an atmosphere of misplaced arrogance and grandeur within those institutions, it fuels the perception that we are ruled by an elite, impenetrable, Oxbridge club, and worst of all it intimidates poorer students away from applying to what are seen as alien institutions that only lets in posh kids.
What seems obvious to people who went to a school where the closest thing to a tuck shop was the Chicken Spot over the road, is not what they believe over at Britain's top schools. Ask most Wickamists, Etonians or Salopians* and they'll tell you that getting into Oxbridge from a state school is easier than looting trainers in a riot.
Here's some advice about getting into the big two that's a little less 'be yourself' and a little more 'prepare like so'. I graduated from Oxford a couple of years ago and while I was there I worked at University open days and for my college as an interviews chaperone. I know the system, and in my next three posts I'll reveal what you need to do to get in.
That 'great lie' is Oxbridge's biggest secret. Sure there may be more contact hours or a heavier workload than other universities but that's not what sets them apart. Intelligent, motivated people will continue to do well wherever they find themselves and to pretend that Oxford and Cambridge are the only institutions full of great talent is at best naïve and at worst the product of an appalling kind of prejudice.