Welcome back

Welcome back Another term, another editorial. Some of us are coming up to Oxford for the first time, while others will be launched straight back into a familiar routine. But while Oxford may retain a timeless quality, unchanging as generations of students matriculate and graduate, there are also changes facing current undergraduates. We have a new Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor is set to leave us within the year. It waits to be seen what impact the change in figureheads will have on our day-to-day lives in Oxford. There remain huge differences in college endowments and resources, and following last year’s student union report into college inequalities it is only a matter of time before the University as a whole will have to consider its very structure. The role of colleges in undergraduate admissions is unlikely to escape closer scrutiny in the coming months given the nationwide focus on opening access to HE. The Admissions to Higher Education Steering Group, led by Professor Steven Schwartz, launched its discussion paper on ‘the options for assessing applicants for admissions to Higher Education’ in late September which highlighted the difficulty of reaching a consensus over which critera can be used legitimately to discriminate between candidates. The return to a universal entrance examination for Cambridge applicants this year will inevitably lead to calls for a similiar system to be introduced here. It is to be expected that admissions tutors will grab any opportunity to differentiate between the hundreds of students with identical academic qualifications. Last term’s shock of proposed hikes in rents across the University has given way to a complacency in all but the most militant of quarters. Trinity is the only college to have called a rent strike and that is a half–hearted affair that is always the result of a reluctant student body being dragged into action. We would all welcome the strikes’ success but few believe that Trinity’s SCR are prepared to retreat any further from the position set out when they unilaterally ended negotiations last term. Other colleges may have offered token support for Trinity’s stand but the refusal to engage in wider scale protest signals a lack of awareness of the final nature of the current discussions on accommodation costing. On a lighter note, Michaelmas term promises both the Cuppers’ drama festival and the Christ Church regatta, both opportunities for Freshers to demonstrate embarrassing incompetence before they become too important to make such fools of themselves. For the rest of us, apart from offering wisdom and guidance, (standing back and laughing) there’s the joy of living in Oxford as the weather turns colder and wetter. And there’s always Park End.ARCHIVE: 0th Week MT2003