LETTER:Oxford vs 'Disneyland' - the spires aren't always inspiring

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The Independent Online
From Dr Tony Morgan, BA Oxon

Sir: Niall Ferguson is too learned for me to lecture him on dinosaurs, but maybe he can help me to understand something.

My daughter, a student at the country's most successful sixth-form college (50 Oxbridge entrants last year) recently attended an Oxford open day for prospective applicants. She returned unpersuaded that the course she was interested in matched up to the interesting yet traditional A-level courses she is following and, accordingly applied elsewhere. She is too polite and educated to say so, but I think she also found the prospect of spending three years surrounded by so many Mad Hatters, White Rabbits and Red Queens rather uninviting.

Have I got it wrong? It does seem a pity for all our sakes that the institution which has been so privileged with resources for so long has not the wit to attract our young generation. But then, she and her friends have been exposed in Cambridge to rather a lot of the same narrow breed that Mr Ferguson values, and has encountered a lot of dodos in her young life here.

Did she perhaps detect that Niall Ferguson's colleagues are not very interested in teaching undergraduates anyway - and therefore are not really concerned with creating an environment that would attract them in the first place?

Yours faithfully,

Tony Morgan

Anglia University

Cambridge

2 January

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