Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has claimed that Oxbridge graduates face a “misplaced prejudice just because of where they finished their education,” when applying to public sector jobs.
Mr Clegg, also leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, was asked after giving a speech to public sector workers about the difficulty some graduates experience when applying to the sector after graduating.
Saskia Goldman, a Cambridge English graduate, complained to Mr. Clegg that she and others had suffered discrimination from a range of public sector employers in their post-graduation job hunt.
He replied “I think it is a huge, huge shame that you have got friends who want to give back who are talented and come up through the ranks entirely meritocratically and are being blocked.”
Goldman, who has since taken a Masters in International Relations, told the Telegraph that “it is a commonly acknowledged thing amongst my friends that if you have Cambridge on your CV [employers in the public sector] can’t have too many of you”.
She also claimed that a friend was told in an interview for the BBC that, “’it’s amazing you slipped through the net because we don’t get that many of your lot this far down in the process”.
Jonathan Black, Director of the Careers Service, told Cherwell that they have had “no direct experience or evidence” of Oxford graduates facing discrimination.
He explained, “Recruiters are seeking the best candidates for the job and by the time they are reviewing applications, interviewing or running assessment centres, the candidate’s university is of minor concern.
“Our hard evidence is that Oxford students attain jobs in a very wide range of sectors, including the public sector; as examples, TeachFirst and Frontline [a social work programme] have appointed large numbers of students from Oxford – indeed Oxford has been the university from which the largest number of successful applicants has come.”
The Deputy Prime Minister went on to say that “we could live in a country where each individual, regardless of the circumstance of their birth, is treated as individuals, not treating people as though they have something tattooed on their forehead of: I went to this school, I went to this University.”
Anna Lewis, a first year Biochemist at St Catherine’s, commented she was that although she is worried about the competitive job market for graduates, “I am not worried that having studied at Oxford, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, will count against me.”