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Oxbridge degree is not a golden ticket.

I READ, with interest, last week's headlines - that only 3% of Welsh pupils are awarded Oxbridge places. Needless to say, there will be the usual hand-wringing and soulsearching among our educators and policy-makers as to how such a travesty could possibly occur.

I suppose I could count myself one of the "lucky ones" in winning a place at Oxford and undoubtedly felt a sense of pride and achievement in entering such a prestigious institution from my state-schooled background.

Of course, there is something very wrong with the system when so few students from Wales are offered places at Oxbridge, but are our students really missing out? Does it really matter? Should our students be made to feel inferior because they have failed to gain entry to the City of Dreaming Spires? I feel that I must point out to students and to those who run our education system that a place at Oxford is far from being the "golden ticket", as so many people are led to believe. Nor do all Oxbridge students end up being the "ones running the country", as my own experiences testify.

While I have now secured a fixedterm post in a local university, I have nevertheless found the last 10 or so years since my graduation to be a struggle to obtain employment.

By choosing to stay in Wales I have found opportunities for graduates, Oxbridge or otherwise, to be limited. Interview after interview and employer after employer, I realised there were few who were interested in any of my qualifications, let alone my Oxford degree. All too often my applications were unsuccessful. I became so demoralised that at one point I omitted my degree qualification from my applications altogether.

Possibly some students are already aware of this dilemma and that might be the real reason why so few Welsh students are not applying to Oxbridge, particularly as the level of study is extremely demanding and the interviews are rigorous.

The value of a degree or Oxbridge qualification is not seriously valued by many employers. In fact, I would say that some employers possibly regard Oxbridge graduates as threats. To anyone who would point out that I was at least fortunate to have had the Oxbridge "experience", I would say the "experience" amounted to three years of hard slog, which have proved of little value. Add to the picture the very real cost of tuition fees (I was fortunate to escape top-up fees) and I would urge any student thinking of applying to Oxbridge to think carefully and not make the same costly mistake I did.

Yes, I enjoyed my time at Oxford but the legacy has amounted to nothing more than disappointment and a hefty monthly deduction from my salary in the form of a student loan repayment.

Mrs KR Levy (nee Greville) MA (Oxon), MSc HRM, PGCE Pontyclun

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 28, 2017
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