A smarmy 19 year old, the darling of the nation, taking the press and the internet by storm? Whatever next! Now yours truly loves sticking two fingers up to the establishment as much as the next misanthropic penpusher, but when that criticism is both silly and self-important it really takes the biscuit.
Little Elly Nowell has those Oxbridge-bashers at the right-wing press rubbing their hands with glee (who, according to Nowell, never ridicule the rahs). Yes, the letter she sent to Magdalen “rejecting” them was mildly amusing for the blink of an eyelid, but the oh-look-how-clever-I-am attitude was not.
Criticising the “grand, formal settings” of her interview? I personally love creaming over Oxford’s architectural awesomeness, but if spires aren’t your thing there is plenty of concrete over at Catz. And it isn’t a huge stretch to picture medics and the like on their way to interviews at UCL, the lucky university that ticks Nowell’s boxes, quaking in their boots when faced with the neoclassical pile.
Nowell told the BBC, “I spent my entire time there laughing at how seriously everything was being taken.’ Well yes, some people care about their future, and it isn’t so surprising that the academics are serious about wanting to teach people who actually care as well.
I’m normally all for poking fun at ourselves, but Nowell has unfortunately hit us right where it hurts – the (not unwarranted) stereotype of exclusivity and elitism that Oxbridge just can’t seem to shake. The access team have enough of a mountain to climb without constantly having to fend off an army of popular opinion. It’s a shame that the tirade of hurrahs from those who agree with Nowell is pretty much drowning out the hard fact that six out of seven students that Magdalen accepted for law, the course Nowell applied for, are actually from state schools.
For once, I admit, the cynical side of me is overwhelmed by a touch of self-righteous pride. Nowell doesn’t deserve our dreaming spires. And there are plenty of state school students out there being put off by her parroted Oxbridge stereotypes that do.