An email from an Oxford Law applicant has sparked further debate on the University admissions process after becoming a minor internet hit.
Elly Nowell, a former student at Brockenhurst College, emailed the Magdalen Admissions office and Law Faculty shortly after her interview explaining that she would be withdrawing her application to the University with immediate effect.
She stated, ‘I realise you may be disappointed by this decision, but you were in competition with many fantastic universities and following your interview I’m afraid you do not quite meet the standard of the universities I will be considering. I encourage you to try again for my LLM [Master of Laws], but re-applicants are at a disadvantage and you are unlikely to succeed unless you become a more progressive university. I hope you will be successful in finding other capable candidates.’
Nowell finished the email with four attacks on the Oxford admissions system, the first of which asserted that Magdalen’s ‘grand formal setting’ were a put-off for state-school pupils. She then suggested that Oxford’s rituals and traditions ‘reflect badly’ on the university, and that ‘teaching … students to blindly and illogically do whatever they are told reveals significant flaws in your education system’. She also claimed that the ‘obvious gap between minorities and white middle-class students was embarrassing’. She did not elaborate on what ‘gap’ she was referring to. Her fourth and final criticism concluded that not offering interviewees a glass of water amounted to ‘torture’.
When asked by Cherwell to comment on the story, Christy Rush, a second year Law student at Magdalen, said ‘The banter of the email is sadly spoiled by the cynicism and agenda displayed at the end. Magdalen can hardly be expected to knock down its beautiful buildings in order to ensure no-one gets ‘intimidated’ – anyway, as it happens Magdalen has a really diverse intake, both in terms of race and education. I find it very difficult to believe someone actually turned down a place at Oxford just to be self-righteous. Frankly the whole thing sounds like a pathetic publicity stunt.’
The University Press office was equally unimpressed by Nowell’s comments. In a statement, a spokesman for the University stated ‘of the seven UK students who received offers for Law and joint school courses at Magdalen, only one was from an independent school’. Between the years 2005 and 2007, Magdalen accepted a lower percentage of independent school candidates than sixteen other colleges.
A first year student, who preferred to remain anonymous, said ‘I can understand where she was coming from, but still think it’s a bit of a blunder’.
Nowell’s tirade attracted a number of comments after being posted on discussion website The Student Room. One contributor, who could only be identified as ‘dudeydan’, remarked simply, ‘your friend is a moron and will regret this for years to come’.
On social news site Reddit, a more sympathetic member, ‘KingJol’, wrote ‘I should do that when I apply to Harvard’.
Nowell was unavailable for comment, but early reports indicate her favoured choice of University is now UCL, another member of the Russell Group.