Last week Cherwell broke the story of an LMH fresher who faked 10 A-Levels and fabricated a personal statement to gain a place at Oxford. Now it has emerged that the student was also offering tutoring for Oxbridge applications.
Around the same time that he begun studying at Oxford,the student became involved at a high level with the website “Sucedo”, a company which sells coaching, tuition and advice to prospective Oxbridge applicants.
The Sucedo website boasts that the fresher is the only candidate who scored 100% on the TSA [Thinking Skills Assesment], a claim that the LMH Admissions Office have refused to verify. Sucedo offers to arrange an question and answer session with the student about the TSA, which it promises will be an “informal session” where “your questions decide the content”.
Sucedo is a relatively new company, set up in June 2009 by Alexander James McPherson. The Sucedo website claims that its users will benefit from being taught by past or present Oxbridge students.
But the current Company Director, 24 year old James Meller, is not an Oxbridge alumni, but a graduate from Manchester University.
The site charges £200 for a mock interview, £320 for a “Skills” package, and £950 for the fully blown “Meet and Greet” experience, where applicants would be accompanied to their interviews by Sucedo representatives. Elsewhere, Sucedo offers “hundreds of USD” to anyone who refers Cambridge or Oxford applicants to them for coaching.
Sucedo told the Telegraph in November 2009 that it had seen a “massive upsurge” in demand for help to pass admissions tests, particularly from state school students.
Owen John, the LMH JCR Access & Academic Affairs Officer, commented that companies like Sucedo are “a big concern to the College. It is not in their interest to have students who have had the best preparation, but are not necessarily the best. The one thing [Sucedo and other companies] cannot give you is the raw ability that Oxford is looking for. The case of [LMH student] shows that just having the right techniques for interviews and admissions test can’t get you through the degree.” Fresher’s school Headmistress described his academic record as “strong but not outstanding”.
The Sucedo website warns, “We’re here to see you succeed in the long-term…We’re not here to give you shortcuts that will make life difficult further down the line.”
A spokesperson from Oxford said, “Oxford has one of the most rigorous selection processes for students applying for undergraduate study in the country. All tests must satisfy a range of criteria before they are used for selecting students.”
Oxford takes an uncompromising stance towards companies like Sucedo, “The University does not endorse any commercial coaching activities related to the selection process – we are always keen to let candidates know that there is free advice and guidance available direct from the University, with sample aptitude tests available to download and practise.”
Owen commented, “It’s a sad fact that when someone like [the first year student] is prepared to lie himself into a University place he doesn’t deserve, he will sometimes get away with it. Had he hoped that he’d get through an entire degree course at LMH without having met the entry requirements then he was quickly proved wrong.”
On the penultimate day of Michaelmas term, the pupil was asked to see the Dean, who told him to leave LMH with immediate effect while the evidence against him was reviewed. So far this term, he has not returned.