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To be fed up with the Oxbridge hype?

(26 Posts)
tyngedyriaith Sat 14-Jan-17 14:37:57

Hehehe this one will be interesting. (Hubby went not me blush )
As a disclaimer I'm not at all trying to rain on your dcs parade or be mean.
They are both life changing places, but...

Obviously they are world leading universities but do you not think perhaps other universities in the UK deserve more attention?

Some sectors seem very set on employing Oxbridge grads with many of those interviewing having passed through the libraries too. But surely it's a bit unfair in a world where University entry at the top is so much more competitive?

RedHelenB Sat 14-Jan-17 14:48:03

They have the history and reputation behind them. Of course other universities are great but on the whole are less competitive to get into hence all the hype!

myfavouritecolourispurple Sat 14-Jan-17 14:57:45

My husband went to Oxford. I dare say he would have done just as well (and potentially enjoyed his course more) if he'd gone elsewhere. I say potentially enjoyed the course more because he had a couple of other options that offered what he thought were better courses, but went to Oxford, because, well it's Oxford.

I didn't go to Oxbridge or one of the "Oxbridge reject" unis like Durham/Bristol/Exeter but I trained as a solicitor at one of the big London law firms where 2/3 of my intake of trainee solicitors were from Oxbridge. So I did as well as I would have done if I had gone there.

If I were advising people now, I'd say consider the course (you've got to enjoy it and do well in it) and the city (you've got to live there for 3+ years). If you get a good degree and you've had a nice time for 3+ years, the chances are you'll get a decent job.

If you've cried your way through a course you don't like in a place you don't like (or where you can't cope), better not to go.

Want2bSupermum Sat 14-Jan-17 15:02:14

I totally agree. I'm in the US and it's worse because my degree from a redbrick is not respected at all. The only degrees they recognize are from Oxbridge. I've had to go to big4 as an experienced hire to get myself in a position where I can move to an American company where my expertise and work ethic is respected.

It's totally nuts and it really annoys me that I'm working with people from all over the world who are not that bright but have parents who paid for them to go to American colleges so they are given opportunities that people like myself and international transfers are not given.

MiniEggAddiction Sat 14-Jan-17 15:02:41

Me and DH both went for undergrad and PhD's so I can say that yes to a certain extent it is hype. Lots of people joined for postgrad from other uni's and although sometimes struggled a bit in the beginning if their course had been less rigorous were no less capable of doing their PhD than us at Oxbridge (the selection process isn't perfect - I know from taking part in it from both sides and some people find their academic feet later or just have other skills anyway).

As for other jobs hiring mainly from Oxbridge it's mainly just because most competitive jobs have so many applicants there's no sensible way to sift through them (from personal experience doing hiring). If you got a first from Oxbridge it's fairly likely that you have some combination of hard work or brains (although you hardly need to be a genius) so it's just a lazy method of making the first selection. Obviously after you've made your mark in your professional career where you did your degree is no longer relevant.

RumbleMum Sat 14-Jan-17 15:04:38

YANBU, and I say this as a Cambridge graduate too. The name earned me more brownie points when I was looking for a job than it should've done, and it felt unfair.

EssentialHummus Sat 14-Jan-17 15:06:04

I'm forrin, but turned down Oxbridge in favour of a "lesser" uni with a specialised course for my master's, and was then accepted for, and decided not to take up, a DPhil place there.

I think there is a bit too much pressure placed on quite young people to aim for Oxbridge as though it's a golden ticket to an easy ride through life. It helps, in many ways, but that's it.

In general, Oxbridge mania is the glacé cherry on the cake of the dysfunctional English education system, imo.

andintothefire Sat 14-Jan-17 15:14:54

I think that an Oxbridge graduate is sometimes seen as a safer bet by graduate employers. It's not just about Oxbridge being difficult to get into - anybody sensible knows that the application process isn't perfect and that brilliant people are turned down or study elsewhere for a variety of reasons. However, the reality of studying at Oxbridge is that it requires a lot of work, termly examinations and intensive tutorials. It's harder to coast than at some other universities, and so graduates with a 2.1 or above are nearly all pretty decent bets for employers.

The tutorial system may also mean that Oxbridge candidates (or those from other universities with similar systems) have an advantage at the graduate recruitment stage. There is probably no difference at all in potential or ability between a first year Oxbridge student and a first year at another top university. However, the tutorial system at its best really does help to polish people, prepares them for answering questions under pressure, and gives them experience in defending their views. Those "soft skills" can give graduates an advantage when being interviewed. They also have an advantage when it comes to references from personal tutors.

Several years into a career, however, I don't think anybody can tell or cares what university somebody has been to. The skills and experience picked up in the job are what matters. I know of many Oxbridge graduates who have been shown over their first few years in a career not to be as good as their applications and interviews suggested. That is why employers owe it to everyone (including themselves) to try to dig beneath any external polish and avoid Oxbridge bias in recruiting.

Pestilence13610 Sat 14-Jan-17 15:21:58

I went to a job interview once, where the woman interviewing me had been to Cambridge. I know because she told me seven times. She was weird, very weird.

CaptainCallisto Sat 14-Jan-17 15:25:19

I was offered a place at Oxford, but turned it down and went to Bath instead. I realised I was going to go there because it was Oxford rather than because I actually thought I would enjoy the course they were offering. Bath was a much better fit for me both in terms of the course and the university itself; I was comfortable so I flourished.

When I did my MA later there were two people on the course with Oxbridge degrees, and neither of them proved more capable than the rest of us. One of them only just passed because his attitude was 'well I went to Cambridge, don't you know? I don't even have to try'. (The other was one of the nicest, most hard working women I've ever met btw so no implication that all Oxbridge graduates have the other guy's attitude!)

I think a lot of it is hype, but as pp said, once you've got your foot in the door where you did your degree becomes less and less relevant. It just helps sometimes with getting your foot in there!

earlgreysandpuppies Sat 14-Jan-17 15:30:08

YANBU at all. I went to Warwick and I'm so so glad I did - there was enough pressure there so I can't imagine how awful it would be with the Oxbridge hype. Also everyone I know who went to either (around 10 people) didn't enjoy the experience and surely that's half of the point of university! I also know most of them really struggled mentally due to the intense pressure, though this will have made them stronger I'm so much happier to have gone to a brill university that is categorically NOT oxbridge smile

Philoslothy Sat 14-Jan-17 15:34:15

I am distinctly average but it has opened doors for me that probably shouldn't have been opened and consequently I have had a rather charmed life. For that reason we have encouraged our children to apply where appropriate.

VeryBitchyRestingFace Sat 14-Jan-17 15:42:17

Hehehe this one will be interesting. (Hubby went not me blush )

Does he chunter on about it or something?

GilMartin Sat 14-Jan-17 15:46:35

I wonder what has provoked this bout of 'aibu to think Oxbridge ain't all that?' Has the op's offspring been for interview pre-christmas and got the 'thanks, but no thanks letter'? They tend to go out this time of year.

I went to Cambridge and disliked it intensely. It didn't help me get a foot in any door I was interested in and left me a bag of nerves. Not a great place for nervy and socially awkward state school students (well it wasn't for me).

In career terms, it has cost me 10 years struggling with low self-esteem and depression and has probably knackered me completely in terms of pursuing the career I wanted.

AppleMagic Sat 14-Jan-17 15:50:28

I didn't go but think the tutorial system means that the distinction between Oxbridge and "the rest" is probably much more significant at undergraduate level than the totally irrelevant Russell Group status that some employers think is so important.

VeryBitchyRestingFace Sat 14-Jan-17 15:50:40

Well, OP is obviously giving it some deep cogitation, because she posted 2 identical threads. grin

tyngedyriaith Sat 14-Jan-17 15:56:16

Bugger I didn't think my first post went through so I tried it again !
DH liked it but DSIL struggled.

Redsrule Sat 14-Jan-17 16:10:51

Went to Oxford and had a fab time but as a party animal would have enjoyed any uni. But I would not know so many people who work for the BBC. Sadly it does open doors but I have happy memories and as a teacher it has had no impact on my career.

RonaldMcDonald Sat 14-Jan-17 16:20:26

It is worth all the hype. Your cv automatically gets through all the cuts in vast majority of cases.
I have been offered places on courses, ad hoc work and have been paid thousands more than similarly qualified colleagues

Most importantly I benefited massively from studying there in terms of how I was pushed and shaped into asking the most from myself.

At 18, had I not had weekly 121 tutorials I would have pissed about. I learned a lot about myself and left with a completely changed perspective.
I would recommend it to anyone

Sugarcoma Sat 14-Jan-17 16:38:11

Went to Oxford and have mixed feelings although I found it to be a great experience just in terms of the people I met (not fellow students so much but guests and speakers), extra-curriculars, my course, and the tutorial system.

The problem was the hype meant I had massively unrealistic expectations of what would happen when I left, which set me back a bit career wise initially.

Godstopper Sat 14-Jan-17 16:51:45

There is a great deal of unhelpful myth-making surrounding Oxbridge.

I'm an early-career academic at an RG uni.

Within academia, we don't really care [i]where[/i] someone went to uni, providing it's not somewhere awful. There are quite a few of us who regard it as an insular place populated by over privileged sorts. Some PhD-ers I know have found it a horribly dysfunctional environment. I suspect this is less likely to be true at UG level where people are more removed from academic goings on.

It also has exploitative employment contracts (think: unpaid 'Fellowships' which you are expected to treat as a full-time job, and close to minimum pay for the hours of lectures you will end up preparing). This, in part, I suspect is because there is yet another myth that teaching at Oxford is going to be a massive academic career boost - it probably won't be unless you have other accomplishments.

But this is purely from a perspective within academia. I find it curious that those outside academia tend to rate it higher.

Musicinthe00ssucks Sat 14-Jan-17 16:59:20

I had a boss once who liked to tell us that she "could have gone to Cambridge" at least once a week. She couldn't of course; she applied but didn't get the grades. Very odd behaviour.

Allthebestnamesareused Sat 14-Jan-17 17:25:41

I was going to say the same regarding 2 posts. It must really be winding the OP up!

Allthebestnamesareused Sat 14-Jan-17 17:26:58

I am loving that RonaldMcDonald is a former Oxbridge student!

Elledouble Sat 14-Jan-17 17:38:25

I didn't apply but sometimes wish I had. Ironically I went to UCL (massive Oxbridge reject place) because I thought I couldn't cope with the pressure at Oxford. As it happened, I couldn't hack it at UCL either and got quite ill and ended up dropping out.

From the experiences of my two friends who did go to Oxford, the pastoral care would probably have been better than the totally absent provision at UCL (and maybe I wouldn't have been shouted at and threatened by the Dean after a suicide attempt, but who knows).

I regret not having a degree a lot, but mainly because I enjoyed learning. I'm in a decent job now (although obviously with no degree I had to do it the hard way), but I'd have liked a chance to study longer.

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