It’s a controversial subject, but there is a frank discussion which is needed about this.
The biggest taboo in British society is how unlike in some other countries in the world, the British university system seems to be concentrated on Oxford and Cambridge. Many will probably hate me by saying that, but it’s a reality which is visible, even more so considering that someone bright from an ordinary school could be accepted. Some people that came out of Newham did very well, like some people who went to Eton turned out to be lowlifes with few achievements of their own.
There are indeed some other great universities in the UK, but there is a sense that going to Oxford or Cambridge bring you a golden pass. For what? Is going to the University of East Anglia or the University of Sussex will make you less bright?
This situation is not normal. It’s illogical that someone is to be judged on their alma mater. A person should be judged rather on his skills, his experience, his passé. I myself went to the same university of my parents, I agree that it’s not the best university of the world, but I wanted to be close from home to be able to have as little debt as possible. It’s a choice that a made also considering my social limitations, but a choice which I am very proud of. But one revolutionary thing is that I am part of the second generation of people who have been to university, my father is seen as an icon in his family as he is being the first ever in his extended family to go to university. The same could be said about my mother in her generation. My grand-parents on both sides have limited formal education and were labourers and manual workers.
Britain need to get some New World state of mind sometimes. An attitude which is based on who you are and what you do, rather then where you come from. And yet, many in Britain have difficulty swallowing the fact that British social-democrats of all party colours have done very badly. The only thing they have done is playing the class card when it suits them for political support. To use poorer people as vulgar political props rather than make them free and autonomous.
So instead of Oxbridge, why not have a system with tens of elite universities? A system where being proud of your alma mater is not a vice, but where you have choices in doing the best university education possible.