The 2014 Rhodes scholars - stars in the making?

With alumni including prime ministers, pop stars and at least one president who never learned to inhale, how will the Rhodes scholars of 2014 compare?

About 80 young people around the world are learning this week that they have a chance to tread where Nobel prize winners, Australian prime ministers, a US President, and a country music star have gone before. They are the 2014 Rhodes scholars, who will spend two or three years at Oxford University, paid for by a trust founded more than a century ago by Cecil Rhodes.

As ever, the biggest contingent, 32 strong, is from the United States. Within the US contingent, Harvard University has chalked up the biggest score, winning six scholarships. The sole representative of the state of Illinois is Vinay Nayak, whose pharmacist father, Raghuveer, awaiting sentence for health care fraud, is reputed to be the "bribe guy" fixer who tried to flog Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat for a vast sum. The Daily Pennsylvanian has noted ruefully that Penn University has none, for the fourth year in a row.

Cecil Rhodes, the businessman and imperialist who used to have two African states named after him, launched the first scholarship, for a couple of promising young South Africans in 1902. The number quickly expanded. In peak years, it has exceeded 90.

The most famous former Rhodes scholar is Bill Clinton, who arrived at Oxford in October 1968, stayed a year, smoked dope "without inhaling" and came away without completing his degree. Bill Bradley, a professional basketball player, New Jersey Senator and contender for the 2000 Democrat presidential nomination, preceded Clinton by three years.

Another scholar who did not finish his degree was Kris Kristofferson, who passed up several promising careers to become a singer/songwriter and, briefly, Janice Joplin's lover. A song he wrote, 'Me and Bobby McGee', became Joplin's posthumous No 1.

It comes as a surprise to some Australians to learn that their current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, not viewed by everyone as the intellectual type, was also a Rhodes scholar, who graduated in 1983 with a 2:2 in philosophy and politics.

He is not the first. Bob Hawke, Prime Minister from 1983 to 1991, who once made the Guinness Book of Records by drinking 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds, abandoned his planned degree while he was at Oxford in 1953-55 to write a thesis on wage-fixing.

Edwin Hubble, the astronomer after whom the Hubble Space Telescope is named, arrived at Oxford in 1910 to study, incongruously, Roman and English law. He soon gave up the idea of being a lawyer.

Surprisingly, despite his great fame, he was not one of the former Rhodes scholars to bag a Nobel prize. There have been three, none as well-known as Hubble – two Australians, Howard Florey and Sir John Eccles, who won the prizes for medicine in 1945 and 1963 respectively, and an American, Michael Spencer, who won the 2001 economics prize

Other Rhodes alumni include Dean Rusk, who was US Secretary of State in the 1960s, the US politician Senator William Fulbright and the feminist writer Naomi Wolf.

It will be interesting to see whether any of 2014 intake lives up to their illustrious allumni. Scientists, singers and leaders of the free world – they've got a tough act to follow.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    BI Manager - £50,000

    £49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

    BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

    £48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

    VB.Net Developer

    £35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

    SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game