Oxford

Octopus 'off menu' at Oxford University's Somerville College

Octopus terrine Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The principal of Somerville College said octopus terrine was no longer on the menu after it was served at a freshers' dinner

An Oxford college has said octopus is "no longer on the menu" after an undergraduate was surprised it was served at a freshers' dinner.

Somerville College head Janet Royall made the announcement in a blog about widening access to Oxford University.

Ms Royall, Labour peer Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, said octopus terrine "was not quite right for everyone".

The principal said Somerville "began as a college that widened access to Oxford" and must be "welcoming to all".

During the blog post, the former Leader of the House of Lords said the college should serve something "everyone is comfortable with".

"I also want to turn the spotlight on ourselves, and ask how we should change the culture of Somerville and Oxford," she said, adding: "I am determined to move rapidly on widening access to Somerville".

But for Michelin star chef Michael Wignall, of The Angel at Hetton, there is no "snobby element" to eating octopus.

He said: "I don't think we can stick to fish and chips and Yorkshire pudding all our lives.

"We've got to taste different things and people nowadays are being more adventurous, and octopus when it's cooked properly is flipping amazing."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Oxford University has been criticised for the number of private pupils offered undergraduate places

Ms Royall reported the college had increased the number of conditional offers made to state school pupils for the coming 2019 intake of students, and had offered a day of interview preparations for state school applicants.

She said 72.6% of their undergraduate places for UK applicants had been offered to state school pupils, compared to 61.5% in 2018.

"I know that we cannot, single-handedly, transform the inequality that runs through Britain, including our school system," she said.

"But I am determined to move rapidly on widening access to Somerville."

Oxford University, along with Cambridge, has come under criticism for the high number of private school pupils who are offered undergraduate places.

In December, the Sutton Trust reported Oxbridge recruited more students from eight top schools - mostly private - than almost 3,000 other English state schools put together between 2015 and 2017.

Responding to the social mobility charity, Oxford University said they were "very aware" that they "must work harder".

More on this story