Sunday, June 24, 2007

An end to the Oxbridge dominance of Downing Street?

Who was the last Prime Minister to go to a university that wasn't Oxford or Cambridge? I hear many of you rushing to Wikipedia to work this out. The answer (until Wednesday) is Neville Chamberlain (who went to Mason Science College, later the University of Birmingham). In fact he's the last university educated Prime Minister to have not gone to Oxford - the last from Cambridge was Stanley Baldwin. (The other graduate non Oxbridge Prime Ministers were the Earl of Bute who went to the University of Leiden, Lord John Russell who went to the University of Edinburgh and Ramsay MacDonald who went to Birkbeck College). There have of course been Prime Ministers who went to the "university of life" (John Major, James Callaghan, Winston Churchill and others) but the Oxbridge dominance has been there for a long time. But this week the numbers will change - Gordon Brown is an alumnus of the University of Edinburgh.

Now does this matter, many will ask? After all many non-Oxbridge graduates have headed both main parties for decades now. Gordon Brown is not known for walking away from a fight - even if he had been Oxbridge educated I suspect he would still be willing to take on the universities if the situation arises. This could have interesting ramifications for funding.

However anyone hoping that Brown will support the campaign to end Oxbridge using "MA" to sell degrees may be disappointed - Edinburgh uses "MA" for the first degree, but it is a substantial qualification, not one purchased with no academic work.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're right, Tim, those Scottish MAs are actually deserved, rather than the Oxbridge ones, which are a joke.


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