Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Sub-fusc Really Sucks

One of the first pieces I wrote here was a nice little rant about sub-fusc, the academic dress insisted on by Oxford when its students take exams. The Times is now reporting that University officials are prepared to consider dropping it. About bloody time (not that anything happens quickly in the university administration).

There are arguments from a purely practical viewpoint - at exam time, it seems logical that students should feel as comfortable as possible. After all, there's little else done in the Oxford system to make exams a particularly pleasurable experience.

The key one, though, is that of the university's image. Oxford is portrayed by the Labour government as elitist and out-of-touch. This may be for the self-seeking purposes of the likes of Charles Clarke and Gordon Brown, but the problem is that mud sticks. And it sticks all the more when every single article about Oxford is accompanied by a photo of students in an archaic uniform. Never mind that they wear it rarely throughout their period of study.

So students who are thinking about applying to Oxford, but are worried by criticisms, automatically think that it's old-fashioned, out of date, not for people like them. A great way of advertising the university.

The only worry is that the Student Union manage to fudge 'consultation' up in a big way. A task that is by no means beyond them.