University’s reputation remains cut-proof

first_imgOxford received 17,480 applications for undergraduate places this year, the “largest number of applications ever received”, a slight increase on last year when there were 17,216 applications. Meanwhile, University applications by UK students numbered 263,460 this December, a 1 per cent fall compared with this time last year, when there were 264,860 domestic applications.This year’s UCAS deadline was on Wednesday and there is still a possibility that last minute applications will have boosted the final total.The latest figures are in line with a trend since of Oxbridge applications continuing to rise despite a fall in overall UK applications despite the £9,000 fees introduced in 2012.Although part of this continued increase is due to growing numbers of international students, the University emphasized its ongoing outreach work and its “contact with 78% of all schools offering post-16 education – virtually all schools with students capable of making a competitive application to Oxford”.Specific attention was called to the Moritz-Heyman Scholarships which were introduced for the first time this year. Using a £300m donation received in 2012, the scholarships waive some or all tuition and living costs for lower-income Oxford students.Cherwell asked two students about possible reasons for Oxford bucking the trend. A second year historian, who went to a North London academy school and was the first person there to go to Oxbridge, said that living expenses in Oxford were “the crux of the issue” and the University’s bursaries greatly helped her.  She believed they “made Oxford both more appealing” and contributed to the applications increase.However, she highlighted that Oxford’s global reputation is why so many continue to apply, “The fact is, when education is more expensive, you are more likely to try to make the best of it. I was always going to apply to university, whether the fees were increased or not, as I was informed enough to understand them. Many who were put off were either uninformed or looking for an excuse to not bother.” “I don’t think it’s radical to say that the stigma of 9k has been over-estimated.”Nikita Hayward, a Moritz-Heyman scholar at Worcester, agreed, highlighting that, “In schools that have less history of sending students to top universities correct information isn’t passed on to students as clearly as it could be.”Although she felt Oxford applicants were motivated regardless, she said realising Oxford’s financial support “was definitely another factor which made me prefer Oxford to my other UCAS choices”.With several universities charging the full £9,000, she said Oxford offered “the most for their money in terms of access to academic resources, study grants, travel grants, and paid internship opportunities”.Alfie Allen, a bursary recipient and mathematician at St Anne’s, agreed that applicants were now more ambitious. “With repaying the loan looming over the rest of your life, more people are going to want to feel like their degree will guarantee them something.”He added, “I’d be surprised if Oxford’s financial support didn’t at some point factor into the thinking of an average applicant who would receive it, but I’m not convinced that it would be the reason they’d choose here. If we’re talking about the average Oxford applicant, I’d be surprised if it factored in.”Their spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills stated, “Students will rightly want to make sure that they are making the best choices and consider carefully the information available to them. The Government has been very clear about the importance of widening participation and improving fair access in higher education.”last_img read more

Trojan basketball still needs more time

first_imgFrustration is natural, but give the Trojans time.We shouldn’t overreact. But, admittedly, it remains increasingly difficult not to.We’re watching the USC men’s basketball team amid its worst season in school history.The 23 losses are a program first. They have won 20 percent of their games, the lowest since the program’s inception. The Trojans have won one game since mid-December, while utilizing a shortened eight-man rotation, including two walk-ons, for much of conference play.Nothing in that is reassuring that next year will see USC return to the NCAA tournament following four appearances in the Big Dance from 2007-2011. Most Cardinal-and-Gold fans remain understandably aggravated, frustrated and irritated with recent results. If they weren’t, it’d be strange. Nobody likes losing. And nobody likes ugly losing.“I’m frustrated for the players,” USC coach Kevin O’Neill said Saturday. “And I’m frustrated for our fans. I’ve done this for 33 years at many different places and at different levels. Basketball sometimes goes like this.”The responses have been what you would expect: Just fire the coach. That’s what they say. It sounds easy, painless and something a school like Kentucky might do, should its team be swimming in mediocrity.“Coaching staff should get the boot,” read one message board post following the Trojans’ latest ordeal — a 56-52 loss at Arizona State on Saturday.But here’s the thing: USC isn’t Kentucky.The Trojans haven’t been to the Final Four since Dwight Eisenhower was president. They haven’t won a regular season conference title since 1985. USC basketball is vastly different from USC football.Recovering from NCAA-levied sanctions is not as seamless as USC football coach Lane Kiffin has made it look on the gridiron.If you’re looking for an explanation as to why the Trojans have become fixated in the Pac-12 cellar, it’s a rather simple one.USC has one player, redshirt sophomore forward Evan Smith, from its 2009 recruiting class. Its 2008 class vanished in the aftermath of then-coach Tim Floyd’s resignation three years ago. In short, USC has no recruited junior or senior scholarship players available.  The Trojans lost three starters from last season’s 19-win team in forwards Marcus Simmons and Nikola Vucevic and center Alex Stepheson. They lost five players this season, three of them starters, because of season-ending injuries.The counterargument remains: O’Neill should have recruited better.He recruited senior guard Jio Fontan and redshirt junior forward Aaron Fuller, two transfer players, but they’ve been in street clothes for much of the season. He recruited a 7-foot center in redshirt sophomore forward Dewayne Dedmon, but he hasn’t played since Jan. 26 and has worn a splint on his hand, a brace on his left knee and a boot on his right foot at different points this season.“I’ve never seen a team with that conglomeration of situations and circumstances that have led to where we’re at,” O’Neill said. “It’s not an excuse; it’s a set of circumstances.”Whatever it is, it certainly explains the Trojans’ current predicament.NCAA investigations and sanctions are designed to be crippling. The Trojans’ success in football is the exception to the rule. You aren’t supposed to be ranked in the top 10 amid scholarship restrictions and a postseason ban.No, O’Neill’s team isn’t facing such restrictions now, but back in 2010 the program was, and that lingering cloud over the program in the months before the NCAA released its findings hampered the program.“It killed recruiting,” O’Neill said, reflecting upon his first season with the program in 2009-2010. “I got the job late, we didn’t self-impose until January, and then we didn’t get the sanctions confirmed until May really handcuffed us for a full year.”In football, guys will take a chance on USC. After all, the program has produced more NFL draft picks than any school in the country. But such isn’t the case when it comes to basketball. It doesn’t have the same pedigree.The Trojans start two freshmen, two sophomores and one junior in James Blasczyk, who is a first-year transfer and has been limited because of a stress injury to his right foot. And those players aren’t the one-and-done types you’d see at    top-10 programs. That talent doesn’t typically flock to the Galen Center.Until USC is a few years removed from its self-imposed sanctions and can field a healthy unit, we won’t be able to fairly evaluate O’Neill, the coaching staff and his personnel.Is this a coach who can annually lead the Trojans to the NCAA tournament? The top of the Pac-12 pecking order?I’m guessing he can. A season ago, he took a depth-plagued USC team to the Big Dance. He led Marquette to back-to-back 20-win seasons in the early 1990s. But even at this point, it’s still just endless speculation.We only know this: As the nightmarish 2012 season comes to a close, O’Neill’s young group needs more time to develop. Evidently, based on recent weeks, it needs a lot of time. “The 19th Hole” runs Mondays. If you would like to comment on this story, visit or email Joey at [email protected]last_img read more