The Master of Fitz slammed politically correct politicians for damaging Cambridge’s reputation.
The Master of Fitz has slammed the popular perception of Cambridge as an elitist institution.
Professor Robert Lethbridge has laid into ‘the Brideshead Revisited, toff image of Oxford and Cambridge, which some uninformed people find a lazy target.’
The pissed-off prof countered criticisms of privilege and elitism by pointing out that Cambridge could not ‘try any harder to reach out to applicants from every background in this country and every kind of school.’ Cambridge currently spends over £2.7 million on outreach programmes each year, while each college runs its own access programmes.
Lethbridge’s comments come after news emerged in April that state-school teachers were not encouraging their brightest students to apply to Oxbridge because they felt it was too elitist.
Prof Lethbridge singled out politicians as some of the worst offenders, pointing out that political parties have a ‘particular prevalence for choosing statistics which suggest social immobility and inherited privilege’ at Oxbridge.
The displeased Don claimed that ‘every politician’s statement on this subject over the last 10 years has been shown to be factually incorrect’. Last year both Nick Clegg and David Cameron criticised the UK’s top universities for failing to accept young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Fitz student Noreen Masud agreed with the Master’s sentiments, although she admitted he could have phrased them better.
She said, quoting Lethbridge’s comments to the Daily Telegraph, ‘”We find it polemically interesting to retail the idiosyncratic dimensions of what our top universities are about. It is the country house, aristocratic image of the nineteenth century” – what in God’s name does that mean?
‘But frankly I think he’s right”, she added. “Politicians scapegoat Oxbridge to distract from the failings of the 5-18 education system.
‘A teacher at my comprehensive specifically discouraged me from applying, suggesting Glasgow as an alternative. No amount of outreach on Oxbridge’s part is going to neutralise that sort of input from a student’s school.’