Friday, 16 January 2015


As I start this blog post at the end of our second week back at KYUEM, I am delighted to be able to pass on some good news. To date, five of our current seniors have had conditional offers from Cambridge University and one from Oxford. We may yet get more. The offers have all been for specific Oxbridge colleges. There is also a "pool" system, from which promising candidates could be chosen later. Oxford and Cambridge usually only offer conditional places. This means that being accepted is dependent on the candidate obtaining an agreed set of A Level results.

We have also had our first American success of the year - an offer from Princeton University - and this is unconditional. Our candidate did well in the US SAT examinations, submitted an excellent series of essays and has now received a guaranteed place in this prestigious, Ivy League institution. My sincere congratulations to all these excellent candidates.

Much as it pleases me to announce such news, I am mindful of the fact that in real terms, any undergraduate programme from a prestigious UK, US or Australian University should be highly prized. I understand the kudos and, dare I say it, snob value in going to Oxbridge or an Ivy League school, but I honestly feel that this somewhat undervalues the rest of the top institutions, in both the US and UK.

In Britain, the Russell Group represents the very best UK University education including Oxbridge. As a graduate of Bristol University, and with close personal ties to institutions such as Warwick, Southampton, Leeds and Edinburgh, I am well aware of the high standard that such schools set. I also did some teaching at Cardiff University - Cardiff being my home city - when I was between overseas contracts. These places are, in so many ways, the equal of Oxbridge, particularly in terms of the quality of their teaching.

I guess that what I'm trying to say here is that while we value our Oxbridge and Ivy League successes, past and present, we must never lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of KYUEM students still go on to pursue their dreams at some of the best places in the world. Next week, several of our seniors are off to the UK to be interviewed for Medicine. For my part, if I were to be treated by a doctor, and knew in advance that s/he'd been trained in a top Medical School in the UK, Ireland or the US, I wouldn't check to see if s/he'd studied at Oxbridge. The quality of medical training in all the top schools simply couldn't be higher. I'd know I was in safe hands.

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