By Josh White
July 7th 2012
The other day I was sent an e-mail informing me of the inevitable: my offer to Oxford (Oriel College) would expire in 3 days, short of a sudden, enormous Monopoly-style bank error in my favour that means I can pay.
The response I received from the College, and its casual tone made me angry. Good luck for the future. All the best, old bean.
It’s a tone which connotes normality, acknowledging without complaint that it’s an everyday truism that poorer applicants simply cannot get in to study at Oxford. Sorry, pal. Cuh. Whatcha gonna do, eh?
Here was their response:
Thanks for your quick response.
I am sorry to hear that you have not managed to find any suitable support for your MSt and would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best with your future studies.
So I wrote a letter of complaint to the History Faculty.
Dear [Faculty Graduate Admissions],
I’m writing to express my disappointment that history courses at Oxford are not offered in a part-time format. I have been made an offer to start in September, but unless I find the required £17,000 for full-time study before Friday, my offer from Oriel will be withdrawn. I am an applicant from a low-income, single parent, working class family with no savings even close to the required costs for fees and maintenance. There are no student loans for postgraduates and with scholarships being so competitive (as well as not being means tested) poorer graduates are being shut out of postgraduate study at Oxford.
It is deeply exclusionary to expect all applicants to have that amount of money up front. Moreover, with respect, it is misguided and out of date. More and more graduates are turning to postgraduate study (a five-fold increase in the UK since 1990) as a means of furthering their education and of distinguishing themselves from the thousands of other graduates competing for the same jobs.
Part-time courses would allow flexibility. Students would need only to find part of the fees before their course and could earn money alongside their studies. History courses at Oxford could be opened up to thousands more applicants from a variety of backgrounds, injecting new, exciting and dynamic experiences into the study and practice of history. Until that flexibility is possible, it can only mean a continuation of the hegemony in academia, and history, of white males from the middle and upper classes.
I hope that steps may be taken to this end so that future applicants are able to accept their places and enjoy the opportunity to study at Oxford.
They said in response that they will “pass it on and hope that your comments will be put to good use”. Something?
Originally published by Liberal Conspiracy