David Cameron returned to his alma mater, Brasenose College, on Friday evening, where he officially opened the college’s ‘Project Q’ renovations.
The Prime Minister, who studied at Brasenose from 1985-88, graduating with First Class honours in PPE, gave a short speech in the college’s Old Quad.
Cameron defending the increase in tuition fees. He said: “I know how unpopular tutition fees can be but it really matters that we can fund the growth of our universities at a time when governments all over the world are battling to level up taxes and spending.”
He then posed for photographs with students and attended a drinks reception, though he left Brasenose before the official dinner, to which alumni, fellows and current students were invited.
Cameron’s undergraduate tennis partner, Tory Co-Chairman Andrew Feldman, likewise a Brasenose alumnus, attended the reception. Vernon Bogdanor, the constitutional scholar who tutored Cameron in his undergraduate days, also attended.
The Prime Minister is introduced by Brasenose Principal Alan Bowman
“David was one of the nicest and ablest students I ever taught,” Bogdanor told the Guardian in an interview four years ago. “But I’m not responsible for his views.” Bogdanor is known to be skeptical towards the Conservative Party policy of scrapping the Human Rights Act. In government the policy has been neutered by the Liberal Democrats, who support the Act.
In his speech Mr Cameron told students that “Don’t think for a minute that when you leave [Oxford] your tutorials stop. Let me tell you that is not the case.
“Vernon Bogdanor often gives me a tutorial. Recently he wrote me a brilliant letter explaining, as he told me twenty years ago, that democracy is government by explanation. He was referring of course to the Syria vote and he thought that I needed to do more work as a teacher, as a politician, and he’s absolutely right.”
With a nod to the 7.7% unemployment rate, Mr Cameron said that he still “bumped into” his old economics tutor, Peter Sinclair, now Professor of Economics at Birmingham University.
“He still tells me why the labour market isn’t clearing properly and what I need to do about it, and that is hugely valuable.”
Mr Cameron said that he hadn’t kept in touch with his old philosophy tutor, John Foster, but recalled that “He was always trying to convince me that you couldn’t prove the existence of anything apart from the thoughts in your head. There are moments in this job when that would be a lovely reality to have.”
Cameron talking to Oxford University Chancellor, and former Conservative Minister, Chris Patten
Brasenose students were kept in the dark about the Prime Ministers expected visit. An email to Brasenose undergraduates about the opening of ‘Project Q’ renovations referred only to a “senior Cabinet Minister”.
The renovations began shortly after the 500th anniversary of the college’s founding in 2009 and were completed at the end of Hilary term last year.
Cameron talks to the Emir of Qatar
As Leader of the Opposition Cameron last visited Brasenose in November 2009, six months before becoming Prime Minister.