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Student sends Oxford University rejection letter for 'taking itself too seriously'

  • @bmitchellwrites/

A student has sent her own rejection letter to a prestigious university criticising it for "intimidating" pupils from comprehensive school backgrounds during the interview process.

Elly Nowell, from Winchester, Hampshire, wrote in her letter to Oxford University that using "grand formal settings" for the interviews allowed public school applicants to "flourish".

The 19-year-old, who studied at Brockenhurst College, had applied to Magdalen College to read law (jurisprudence).

Parodying a standard university rejection letter, she 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 letter continued: "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."

Ms Nowell, who hopes to be accepted into University College London, told the BBC that she had felt like "the only atheist in a gigantic monastery" when she had attended the interview at Magdalen.

She said: "It was while I was at interview that I finally noticed that subjecting myself to the judgment of an institution which I fundamentally disagreed with was bizarre.

"I spent my entire time there laughing at how seriously everything was being taken."

An Oxford University spokeswoman said: "Despite what the candidate said, we would point out that the actual admissions figures speak for themselves: of the seven UK students who received offers for law and joint school courses at Magdalen, only one was from an independent school."