Letter: In praise of life beyond Oxbridge

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The Independent Online
Sir: I cannot fault the logic of Fergus Allen (Letters, 26 October), that if the Civil Service is seeking the brightest new graduates then Oxbridge still offers the most fertile recruiting ground. The weakness in the Civil Service's case lies in the underlying assumption that the best prospect for a well-managed administration lies in recruiting almost exclusively 21-year-olds fresh from university.

Why should the Civil Service believe that an Oxbridge education followed by 30 years working within the restricted environment of the Civil Service will best equip someone to tackle the complex and difficult issues of management change in the administration of modern government? When industry and commerce face such issues, they seek to draw upon the skills and experience of men and women from a wide range of working backgrounds, recruiting in particular those who have tackled similar problems while employed elsewhere.

Would the Civil Service not be better advised to seek to recruit rather more of those who have learned how to manage through many years at the school of hard knocks, whether or not they happen to have an Oxbridge degree?

Yours sincerely,


London, N5

27 October