Don’t kid yourself: If you’re not at Oxbridge, you’re wasting your time
Durham came and ruined everything
We’re the two oldest universities in the country. Until the glorious leap year of 1832, we were the only universities in the country. We’re also two of the best universities in the world. And, aside from a couple of the upstart London unis, no one else comes close.
I agree, of course, but this article was written by a Nottingham student, who in his blindness ignored the reality of the situation. It’s not just non-Russell Group unis that are pointless. It’s every uni other than Oxbridge.
These are two unis draped in history, and it shows in all the best ways. Black tie balls every week, three course dinners in the hall used to film Harry Potter – every night, chapels that rival some of the best in Rome. The biggest crisis at our student unions right now is whether we should make wearing the posh dress of white tie, a gown and carnation to exams compulsory or not.
We’re also the only two universities to actually have an admissions process worth having. Judging you by the bullshit you put down on your personal statement? Jog on – we have to fight our way through interviews that make Paxman look easy.
Once we’re in, we don’t piss about with one essay a term or compulsory lectures. We do more work in a day than you do in the entirety of your degree. And we’re only there for eight weeks at a time.
We don’t do some doss modular system either. Nothing matters except for your final exams, which are the toughest papers you’ll ever sit. That’s academic rigour, not “your first year counts for 20 per cent” crap.
And we can’t shy away from it, like in classes and seminars. Our one-on-one tutorials (or supervisions, if you’re at Cambridge) are 60 minutes of arguing with the world-leading expert on your subject. Now that’s value for your £9k.
But it’s not like we don’t have a social life. We all adopt the work hard, play hard approach to life. Even our drinking societies are world famous. Does your uni drinking society have a movie made about it because of how outrageous it is?
Don’t forget that we’re filthy rich, too. The Oxford and Cambridge colleges have, collectively, a net worth of over £7 billion. We own assets that include the O2 Arena, and there’s the famous adage that you can get from Oxford to London by walking only on St John’s-owned land.
But you know what we have that no one else does? A reputation that no one can escape, wherever we go. We’re the only two internationally known universities in the country, with a boat race watched by 15 million people every year. Our Varsity Rugby is in Twickenham Stadium, not quite the same as your fight with the poly in the park.
Almost every comedian, politician, journalist, philosopher, actor and author worth knowing has come through our doors. My pub quizzes are in the pub where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis wrote some of the greatest pieces of fiction of all time. We’re surrounded by memories (and paintings) of some of the greatest humans to have ever lived. And the best part is knowing that when we graduate, we’ll all become just as rich, famous and successful.
Warwick is quite good for economics. Exeter’s English degree is respected. Pish. You might rank slightly higher on an arbitrary league table. Yes, you might get a job at the end of your degree. But we’ll be your bosses. Because there is nothing sweeter than the honorary masters we get just for showing up.
There is one downside to the life of an Oxbridge student. In the holidays, when we leave our 200 year old bedrooms and meet up with home friends, we are sometimes faced with the difficult question of “So, where do you go to uni?”. But we can’t answer without sounding arrogant – it’s quite the dilemma.
And though your jealousy may make us feel a bit awkward, it’s a small tradeoff for all that we’ve got going for us. We’re all drowning in debt, but at least ours is worth it.
So carry on laughing at the polys, my Russell Group friends, if it makes you feel better. We’ll stay quite content safe in the knowledge that our position at the top is secured.
Until we talk to those Yank bastards at Harvard, at least.