What Oxford dons really think of their students

Ian Johnston@montaukian
Monday 22 June 2015 11:00

Some Oxford University students think trees are dangerous, translate German into something akin to the incomprehensible babble of “the Swedish chef from the Muppets” and spout “bloke down the pub waffle”, according to their tutors.

Reports about the students’ performances in exams between 2010 and 2014 contain withering criticism of people who are supposed to be future members of Britain’s elite, The Daily Telegraph reported.

One Oxford student suggested the tutors enjoyed the chance to show off their sense of humour. One tutor’s report said:

Sections of some of the worst scripts did not read like post-A-level German at all, but more like a transcript of the Swedish chef from the Muppets.

I reckon this was a fair test, but what it revealed was depressing. My sense is that there has been a significant decline since I last marked the exercise.

Law students in another exam displayed an alarming lack of “basic common sense”, given their prospective careers. One report read:

The examiners were repeatedly informed that rainfall is an extraordinary/non-natural/dangerous use of land by the owner, as are trees, silt and drainage ditches, and that grazing cattle on pastures is an hypersensitive (and nonnatural) use of farmland.

A psychology professor also spoke of “a disconcerting number of candidates [who] seemed to find it difficult to express their thoughts in writing”.

An Oxford University spokesman said: “A minority of colourful comments by examiners makes interesting reading, but they reflect neither the opinion of most Oxford examiners nor the overall academic competence of Oxford undergraduates.”

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