Letter: Oxford does care for its students

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The Independent Online
Sir: I was appalled to read the four letters (24 July) about the supposed pressures and lack of support network at Oxford University. The death of Sarah Napuk is a tragedy and my sympathy goes out to all her friends and family. However, I think that there is little to be gained by pulling out all the old complaints about Oxford's system yet again.

I graduated from The Queen's College two years ago after spending four extremely enjoyable and fulfilling years studying history. Throughout my time I was given the uncomplaining time and support of my tutors. I suffered from a serious bout of glandular fever in my third year and had to take a year out. My moral and academic tutors were incredibly understanding and supportive.

During my final two terms I again had to call on their help when I was injured in a car accident and found it physically very difficult to work because of a back problem. Again I was supported and encouraged wholeheartedly not only by my personal history tutors but by other members of the Senior Common Room and the college staff. They also supported me when I was undergoing financial difficulties.

I am certainly not alone in feeling deeply indebted to the collegiate support network that Oxford supplies. Many tutors, certainly my own, care deeply about their students.

If your correspondents wanted a modular course, why did they not choose to attend one of the many universities that offered them? All Oxford undergraduates are aware that their course is geared towards Finals. It is hardly a horror kept under wraps until the final year.

I wanted a course in which my degree result would rest on examination results. Finals are not simply a test of "stamina and short-term memory". They test one's ability to understand a subject wholly so that you can condense that knowledge and express it clearly while under pressure. Of course they are pressurised and difficult.

One's ability to cope with this is surely one of the reasons that Oxford graduates appeal to employers.

JOANNE TOPPING

Pilling, Lancashire

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