Oxford has simply launched its presents to subsequent 12 months’s college students with Cambridge as a result of observe shortly. For even the brightest boffins, boasting CVs filled with teacher-approved A stars, ready for information is nerve-racking. Yearly, the vagaries of the admissions system see those that could seem shoo-ins on paper turned down, whereas Hail Mary candidates are graciously accepted. Nothing is a given.
That’s true for college students, anyway. Relating to faculty principals, such surprises are uncommon certainly. Whereas the powers that be have executed every part to disrupt the old school “prep college, public college, Oxbridge” conveyor belt for college students, the brand new elite of recent Britain proceed to trudge dutifully from roles within the Labour Celebration, as luvvie human rights attorneys, charity bosses or Left-wing media panjandrums, into faculty prime jobs. Oxford and Cambridge have develop into a type of Blairite donkey sanctuary the place members of the soft-Left may be put out to grass.
Take the inevitable case of Dorothy Byrne, who has been “editor-at-large” of Channel 4 since stepping down as its head of stories and present affairs final March. From September, she would be the president of Murray Edwards Faculty in Cambridge, taking on from Dame Barbara Stocking, the previous chief govt of Oxfam.
She’s going to, little doubt, have loads to speak about at excessive desk. It’s straightforward to image her fellow faculty heads Anthony Grabiner, Chris Smith and Sally Morgan, all ennobled by Labour, chuckling as Byrne recounts the time she referred to as Boris Johnson a “recognized liar”. Little question she will’t wait both to meet up with the three Cambridge faculty heads who’ve labored for the BBC. (It’s the neo-Prohibitionist and Grasp of Trinity Faculty Dame Sally Davies I really feel sorry for. How painful it should be for the previous “nanny-in-chief” to observe individuals who should know higher loosening their belts as they chuck down claret and beef Wellington.)
Away from the Fens, Oxford faculties boast two Labour friends, a former Lib Dem peer, a BBC bigwig and Dame Helen Ghosh, whose time as director-general of the Nationwide Belief marked the beginning of the woke row on the establishment. At the very least Alan Rusbridger, as soon as editor of the Guardian and now principal of Woman Margaret Corridor, is shortly to observe his fellow Lefty hack Will Hutton, late of Hertford Faculty, on to pastures new. Among the many “initiatives” Rusbridger has to fall again on is a spot on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook “supreme court”. It appears he could also be about to develop into the primary individual to go away academia with a view to spend extra time pointlessly pontificating whereas being ignored by a younger man in a hoody.
The idiosyncrasies of Oxbridge admissions are considered one of its nice strengths. At interview, world-leading consultants – the kind of individuals who needs to be in cost, and at many establishments fortunately nonetheless are – pose teasers designed to not trick candidates however to evaluate the rigour of the mind behind the grades. The intention is to look past the superficial in quest of expertise and aptitude.
Should not the identical method be taken for faculty heads? May there be extra scientists? Is it about time anyone to the Proper of Chris Patten, a Tory so wet he makes the Atlantic look like the Sahara, obtained a job? Would extra enterprise leaders assist safe funding and facilitate the ties between college and business which have proved so fruitful in the hunt for Covid vaccines?
Within the meantime, I’ll accept something that staves off the wearyingly predictable day that some once-great faculty opts for Professor Polly Toynbee as principal.