All Souls award fellowship to state-school graduate

Fraser Campbell, a
former president of the Oxford Union, has become one of the few students who
attended a state school to be admitted as a Fellow of the prestigious All Souls
College.Campbell,
who graduated from Pembroke this year with a first in Law, was unanimously
elected by the existing Fellows of to hold a seven year Fellowship. He said, “I’m
delighted to have been elected a Fellow, as it gives me a great opportunity to
combine my legal training with continuing research in broader fields.”The
College Warden, Dr John Davis, said, “We are full of self-congratulation at
having elected Fraser Campbell to the Fellowship.” Despite reports in The Times
and The Mirror newspapers that Campbell had been
the first state-edu­cated pupil to be admitted, Davis told Cherwell that this was not
the case.All
Souls does, however, remain dominated by Fellows with public or private school
backgrounds. Davis
said, “We have seventy Fellows. Of these am pretty sure ten or a dozen or so
went to state schools immediately before coming to Oxford and then becoming
prize Fellows.” This would mean that about 16% of Fellows had a state school
background.Campbell’s
old school, St Ninian’s high school in Glasgow,
is a state comprehensive which rarely sends pupils to Oxbridge. Campbell’s former English
and guidance teacher, Camilla Sheridan, said that despite attendance of target
schools conferences, “some years no-one even applies to Oxbridge”. Last year
only one student applied, but failed to gain a place, and this year the only
applicant is Fraser’s younger sister. Sheridan described as an
“inspiration” to students, who are famil­iar with his success story, especially
after he was invited back to present prizes at the annual prizegiving ceremony.Campbell said: “too many
students from ordinary backgrounds convince themselves that they will face
discrimi­nation at Oxbridge and so don’t apply: in fact, when they apply they
do very well in the admissions process. If my appointment at (and previ­ously
my post at the union) shows that comprehensive school pupils can do well at Oxford, then glad, but
certainly don’t want to be seen as the exception that proves the rule.ARCHIVE: 6th week MT 2005