I'm no toff, but I'd prefer a pro-Oxbridge bias

Share

Educationists were celebrating last week after the announcement by a leading law firm that it will alter its recruitment process to eliminate what it calls its own "pro-Oxbridge bias". Clifford Chance, one of the most prestigious firms in Britain, promises to make final interviews "CV blind", meaning that interviewers will not know which schools or universities applicants attended. It is a move presumably designed to placate left-leaning meritocratists just like me. But I'm furious about it.

First, let me come clean: I have a degree from Cambridge University. But that doesn't mean that I'm a privileged toff. I know now that there are schools in Britain from which almost every student is expected to apply to Oxford or Cambridge – but mine was not one of them. I went to a school from which almost every student was expected to apply for a job in the local chewing gum factory. I was not expected to apply to Cambridge, still less to be offered a place.

When I did, it was not because I had contacts at my grandfather's alma mater, or because my school coached students through the application process. I certainly did not stride into my interview full of confidence after a lifetime of chatting to daunting academics in Gothic buildings. It wasn't even because I am a born genius. I achieved a place at Cambridge by working my socks off, and I think prospective employers should know that about me. Now, apparently, I would not be allowed to tell them.

I think that I understand the reasoning behind Clifford Chance's decision, and I believe that the lawyers' hearts are in the right place. They've noticed that too many of their staff are just the same: white, middle-class, well-connected, and public-school educated. They'd like to increase the variety of backgrounds within their workforce because doing so would make them better as a company. Great idea! But when they look at each other and try to pinpoint what exactly it is that they all have in common, do they really think it's that they all went to Oxbridge? Might it not be because they're all, well, privileged?

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against toffs; some of the people I most admire went to expensive schools. Nor do I assume that an Oxbridge degree is proof of being clever. I agree that top universities need to make greater efforts to seek out students from less privileged backgrounds, which is why I worked on Cambridge's "Target Schools" campaign while I studied there. But if our "best" universities are not offering their best educations to all bright students equally, then employers need to pressure them to fix that; not just refuse to be biased towards the best.

It is a fact that a self-selecting group of people from a narrow, fortune-favoured background dominate the Government and the nation's top jobs, and I'll support anything that tries to shift that. That's why people who make it into top universities despite their backgrounds, should be snapped up. Let them plaster it all over their CVs, then. Tell employers and say it loud: Oxbridge, and proud.

twitter.com/@katyguest36912

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Sir Tim Hunt made the remarks about women in science at a science journalist conference in South Korea.  

The Only Way is Ethics: Strong opinion goes too far if it seeks to silence those who oppose it

Will Gore
Wilbur, the pig who thinks he's a dog (Dom Joly)  

My hilarious pet pig Wilbur is more popular than I am — so I'll let him bring home the bacon

Dom Joly
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'