Revenge – for everyone turned down by Oxbridge

Candidate turns the tables by sending Magdalen College a letter of rejection

A state-school pupil from Hampshire who was invited to Oxford University for an interview turned the tables on the institution by writing her own letter of rejection because it "did not quite meet the standard" of other universities.

In a parody of the thousands of consolatory letters fired off by the élite institution each December, Elly Nowell, 19, wrote: "I have now considered your establishment as a place to read Law (Jurisprudence).

"I very much regret to inform you that I will be withdrawing my application.

"I realise you may be disappointed by this decision, but you were in competition with many fantastic universities and following your interview I am afraid you do not quite meet the standard of the universities I will be considering."

The Brockenhurst College student, whose first-choice preference is University College London, wrote to Magdalen College after being put off by her interview experience. She warned the university to hold off on any attempts to "reapply".

"While you may believe your decision to hold interviews in grand formal settings is inspiring, it allows public-school applicants to flourish... and intimidates state-school applicants, distorting the academic potential of both," she said, criticising the College's "traditions and rituals" and a perceived gulf between "minorities and white middle-class students".

Oxford University dismissed the claims. "Despite what the candidate said, we would point out that the actual admissions figures speak for themselves," it said, stating that of the seven UK students who received offers for the law and joint school course at Magdalen, only one was privately educated.

Law students at Magdalen College, who are subjected to two interviews and a test before being offered a place, also condemned the letter.

"There are lots of state-school students here, especially on the law course. The implication that there's some kind of discrimination is ridiculous," said 20-year-old Christy Rush from Bristol.

Ms Nowell later said that the country's two best universities are often treated with hallowed awe and reverence, making her letter a rare exception.

Last year, it was revealed that just five schools, including Eton and Westminster, have sent more pupils to Oxbridge than 2,000 lower-performing schools combined.

Thanks but no thanks: Oxford rejects

JK Rowling

The Harry Potter author is used to rejection letters. She received piles of them from publishers before being snapped up by Bloomsbury. As a student she was spurned by Oxford, studying instead at Exeter.

Jarvis Cocker

The Pulp frontman managed to get an interview at Oxford, but lied about having read Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles. He later concentrated on music but ended up studying fine art and film at London's Central Saint Martins.

Laura Spence

Gordon Brown called Magdalen College's decision to reject the state school pupil in 2000 "an absolute scandal". Ms Spence chose Harvard instead and later studied medicine at Cambridge.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...

Guru Careers: Product Training Specialist / Software Trainer

£25 - 32,500K (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Produ...

Recruitment Genius: Unqualified NVQ Assessors - Health, Social Care & Management

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence