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Last updated at 12:08 GMT, Monday, 23 January 2012

Rejecting Oxford


19 January 2012

Oxford University, which has sent out thousands of rejection letters in the past, has found itself the subject of a joke played by a student applicant, who decided to turn the tables.

John McManus

Magdalen College, Oxford

Magdalen College, Oxford


Click to hear the report


Nineteen-year old Elly Nowell from Winchester in the south of England applied to the Oxford college of Magdalen to read law, but when she was invited for interview she decided she didn't like what she saw.

Elly, who is finishing her A-levels, told the BBC that Oxford resembled the British Monarchy in that it was what she called ridiculous and elitist, but unlike the Royal Family, was rarely mocked.

Her actions may well change that. Following her interview at Magdalen college, Elly wrote a rejection letter to the University, using the kind of language that officials employ when they're trying to let somebody down gently.

Elly admits that her letter of rejection to the university was not entirely serious, but it has raised some serious points.

Oxford, and Cambridge universities are often accused of elitism, and of having entrance procedures that favour students from private schools.

Yet Oxford says it's changing, and that last year, more than half of its academic offers went to pupils from state schools.

As for Elly, she now hopes to gain a place at University College London. The admissions staff there may well be watching the mailbox very closely.


Click to hear the vocabulary



exams taken by 18 year-olds in England and Wales


seemed like


very silly


for the interest of a small group of people who want to exclude others


joked about

rejection letter

letter which tells someone they are not wanted



let somebody down

disappoint someone


set of actions considered normal in a certain situation

state schools

schools funded by government rather than paid for directly by parents