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Oxbridge degree

Discussion in 'Independent' started by tfdisguise, Nov 2, 2017.

  1. tfdisguise

    tfdisguise New commenter

    I am currently working in an independent school, love it and want to move up the career ladder. However, when looking at staff lists in different independent schools, I've noticed that many teachers, particularly in my subject (English), and the majority of headteachers, have been Oxbridge-educated. I've also heard (anecdotally) that not having a qualification from Oxbridge can hold you back from the top jobs; one example I heard was of a governing board receiving so many headteacher applications that they simply threw out any from candidates who weren't Oxbridge-educated.

    I went to a Russell Group university and don't feel that my subject knowledge is particularly lacking - I work hard to address the gaps I have. I do feel inferior, however, that I don't have the 'Oxbridge badge' on my CV. I've considered doing a Masters / PhD in the future (for my own interest - not solely career-motivated) - maybe an independent school would appreciate this more than I realise?

    Just wondering if anyone else has experienced this or feels the same.
  2. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    I think in some schools, having gone to Oxbridge is 'important' but one of the many criteria used in the application process. It can feel awkward at times, but you have been hired on your merits. By all means, consider a postgraduate degree but do it for yourself (because it is a hard slog) in a subject that interests you.

    I did go to Oxford, but not as an undergraduate, so feel inadequate against those who did! I also hold a PhD (I really love my subject) and am now doing a year-long part-time course in a related subject at Cambridge. I know that I was invited to some interviews based on my education, and those are schools that I didn't feel comfortable at, so it does work both ways.
  3. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Grief, I have a naff class of degree from a not Oxbridge uni and have never felt inferior because of it. Maybe it's different in senior schools, but the vast majority don't care two hoots where your degree is from.
    Your fab application will get your shortlisted.
    Your excellent performance on the day will get you down to the final cut.
    Your university might be a factor if all else is identical and they have no other way to choose.

    Seriously, just apply and move on. You'll be fine.
    tfdisguise and asnac like this.
  4. asnac

    asnac Established commenter

    I wouldn't pay any attention to this nonsense. Schools want to thrive in a competitive market and therefore choose the applicant whose experience and qualifications best match the job spec.
  5. tfdisguise

    tfdisguise New commenter

    Thanks Sabrinakat, great advice - I think you’re right about types of schools that focus on this may not be ones I want to go for long term :) appreciate your reply!
  6. tfdisguise

    tfdisguise New commenter

    Isn’t an Oxbridge degree part of that competition?

    Thanks - probably a dose of realism that I need!! That said, colleagues definitely care about which university I / they went to - it comes up in casual conversation a lot...
  7. AngelEd22

    AngelEd22 New commenter

    I have a degree from a non Russell Group University and I'm very proud to say that I have a degree, particularly because I come from a working class background. To me, Oxbridge is just a status badge that some people like to use because it makes them feel superior to other people who didn't go to Oxbridge. It's like "I went to Eton and you went to the local comprehensive, I'm better than you." Why should it matter which university a job applicant goes to anyway? If I was an employer I would select a candidate based upon who has the best all around CV including work experience, personal qualities and training and who interviewed well.
  8. pennyh.

    pennyh. Occasional commenter

    As time goes on the Oxbridge badge wains as the pool choosing teaching goes down. It is up to you on what you are building on your CV and networks now- the CPD you do, the management training you do, the marketing knowledge you build etc. etc. If you start feeling negative now then than determination and choose me is just not going to be there to be seen by others.
  9. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    In my day (I'm 62 years old now), we used to simply call it "The Old Boy Network". Although Great Britain may now be in the 21st Century, it seems there are many things which are unlikely to change. I believe that if you want your son to attend Harrow College, to start in Year 9 you currently need to have applied by the end of Year 5. Why? Status, pure and simple. There will always be people who place great importance on the School/College/University you went to. I don't think it has anything to do with subject knowledge, because (in theory at least) that should be the same regardless of which University you attended. I suspect that being a student at Oxford or Cambridge means you are exposed to more than simply academic knowledge. I have no idea what, as I never went there. Perhaps someone who attended one of those illustrious institutions could clarify that for you.
  10. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    Just thinking about the last three appointments I've made in my department. On paper, none of the three were the strongest in terms of degree classification or prestige of university.

    This is incorrect.
  11. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    You're right of course, and I stand corrected. When I used the phrase "subject knowledge", I wasn't referring to the depth of subject knowledge attained by the individual student.

    I think what I meant to say was that "the basic core knowledge about any particular subject or topic, should be the same, regardless of which University you attended". In other words, Nyquist's Theorem, the OSI Model, and limitations of the Binary Numbering System, don't somehow change based on whether you study at Oxford, Cambridge, or the University of Timbuktu. At the basic level, they are what they are.

    The manner and depth in which that knowledge is presented, may well vary, and probably does, based on the abilities of the teaching staff, and the resources they have access to. So a high calibre lecturer, at a University heavily involved in research and development, may have access to resources that are unavailable to other lecturers, and it's not unreasonable to assume that under those circumstances, a student should ultimately leave with a greater all-round knowledge of a given topic.

    However, my personal belief is that knowledge and understanding are two different things. I may well have a greater depth of knowledge in and around a particular subject or topic. But that doesn't necessarily mean I understand it any better the guy sitting next to me.
  12. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Well prep schools are still some of the most incestuous places around! There is definitely an advantage to knowing the right people at the right time. But in a sort of good way.
  13. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    You don't think it mighty be because the entrance exam is sat at the start of Year 7, then?
    sabrinakat likes this.
  14. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Although there is the small point that Oxford and Cambridge are regularly ranked among the top 10 universities in the world and normally achieve 1st and 2nd place in the top UK university rankings.

    Having said that, an Oxbridge degree is far less important for securing a job in a top independent school than it perhaps once was. As has been said, it may be one of many considerations for some schools, especially those with a strong tradition of Oxbridge entrants among their own students, but there are plenty more things that are at least as important.
  15. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    Point taken. I should have worded that differently.

    The comment I made about when a parent needs to apply, is not so much about the length of time involved. I was simply saying that in my personal opinion, the very fact your child is 'on the waiting list' for an exclusive school, and you can afford the £38,550 per annum fees, is very much about status, in the same way that being able to announce that you are on the waiting list for a Bentley, is all about status.

    And yes, there are a number of Scholarships and Bursaries offered, but reading through the eligibility criteria, and given the limited number of places available at the school anyway, I would assume that the greater majority of the pupils are not in receipt of either of those things.
  16. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    Way back in the 1980s the staff list of the school I taught at (no names, no pack-drill) listed them as "A.N. Other, MA, late Scholar of Porterhouse College, Cambridge" and so on. Not sure whether this made any difference to anyone. The practice has long since ceased.
  17. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    Scholar? Well well. Good job they don't do that anymore.
    "J Jarndyce, MA, Just Muddled On And Got A 2:i From St Grot's, Oxford".
  18. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Lol 2i eh?
    sabrinakat likes this.

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