It seems like there is continuous media coverage of Oxbridge, veering between reverence of academic success and revilement of elitism. Yet, mental wellbeing is not discussed enough, even though it is a setting which amplifies and highlights the serious challenges facing university students across the country.
We need to squash the redundant notion that it is a subject purely for the linguistically capable elite, and open the doors to the less privileged. This subject is not limited only to language study; the ancient world is full of areas of exploration, so let's not pretend academic scholarship must be limited to linguistics. It's time elitism was shunned from the Classics community and Classical Civilisation is accepted and promoted to all.
One thing that's important to say is how grateful I am to Cambridge. My time at University has done wonders for me that I am endlessly grateful for: the education I received has without a shadow of a doubt completely changed my life, and many things I learnt from people I met and experiences I had while at University have had an intractable impact on my being.
For many ambitious students at the end of their school career, the ideal next step is often studying their degree of choice at either Oxford or Cambridge. Whilst for some students studying specialist subjects it may be argued that other institutions may be better, and for some students the lure away from the UK to a perhaps more well-rounded academic experience at a US college may appeal, for the vast majority, the Oxbridge admissions maze looms large.
"Education. Education. Education." This was the cornerstone of New Labour, a platform for unprecedented levels of social mobility, which helped prepare the way for Tony Blair's landslide victory in the 1997 general election. So why are we still in a situation where 83% of Oxbridge students are from only 400 elite schools? The answer is complex.
I recall memorising the timeline of human prehistory when I was twelve - Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic - from the fresh first pages of my history textbook. It was past midnight, and their quirky names numbed my tongue and befuddled my brain. Nevertheless, I forcibly committed them to memory, motivated by the promise that hard work at school will one day pay off...
A report out this summer revealed that only 19.5% of Welsh applications to Oxford and Cambridge were successful during the 2011-12 admissions cycle, compared to a success rate of 25% for England and Northern Ireland... Welsh industry most certainly does require that top level expertise if it is to continue to thrive.
Flaunting your gown around town, blowing £200 on May Ball tickets, or getting your mates or wider society to fund your Gap Yah trips abroad: there are a number of actions available to Oxbridge students that serve to fuel the stereotypes of an elitist institution harbouring privileged students, out of touch with the rest of the world...