The end of Oxbridge dominance?

The Oxbridge ‘hegemony’ will end as a new ‘super Ivy League’ of universities emerges, a leading headmaster has said

One of England’s leading headmasters has said that narrowing the gap between Oxbridge and other top universities in this country will only benefit students – and that the change is already happening.

Speaking to the Times, the incoming chairman of the Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference Tim Hands said: “We are going to have a super Ivy League of Imperial, UCL, LSE, and then Oxbridge won’t be so apart, which must be good for our society. We are already getting towards it.”

Hands is presently Master of Magdalen College School, in Oxford, one of the leading schools for A-level results in England – sending 47 pupils to Oxford and Cambridge this year.

Discussing the emphasis placed on an Oxbridge education, Hands said that if the ‘hegemony’ of the two institutions were removed, young people would be the ones to benefit.

 “Parents and pupils do tend to see those universities - after all, they have their own term, Oxbridge - as being apart, in a league of their own. I think that can be very harmful to young people’s self-perceptions and to parents’ aspirations,” he told The Times.

His comments come after Oxford released numbers demonstrating that around 17,000 pupils applied for only 3,000 undergraduate places this year.

Regarding rankings in the league tables, Oxford and Cambridge continue to dominate, however, this year's Complete University Guide placed the London School of Economics (LSE) in third – only 35 points behind Cambridge in first, and 15 behind Oxford’s second.   

A spokesperson for Oxford said: "We have often said that that Oxford and Cambridge are not the be-all and end-all. We received more than 17,000 applications last year for 3,000 undergraduate places, so many very talented students go to other excellent universities and thrive there.

"We would never claim that Oxford was the only route to success: indeed, our vice-chancellor did his undergraduate degree at the University of Exeter, while our director of undergraduate admissions attended the University of Sheffield.”