Minister accused of ‘buying’ daughter’s Oxbridge place

News Editor 15 January 2009

The government’s “flagging” campaign to help social mobility has recently suffered an embarrassment, when it was revealed that the daughter of a member of the cabinet was given extra help to get into Oxbridge.

Geoff Hoon, the transport secretary, has allegedly stated that his family paid for his daughter to attend a course run by Oxbridge Applications, an organization which has been criticized in the past by the government and by the university.

The company says it doubles attendees chances of getting a place and charges up to £3,000. It has even published a book called ‘So you want to go to Oxbridge? Tell me about a banana…’, which the university has called “more advert than advice”.

This has led to accusations of hypocrisy against the government, which has recently made moves to increase social mobility.

On Tuesday 13th, the government released a White Paper on social mobility. Under new plans, discrimination because of class could be illegal.

When asked about the case of Mr Hoon, The Labour Party told The Cambridge Student:

“It’s a matter for him. Everyone makes individual choices for their family; the Labour Party is committed to ensuring we tackle barriers to opportunity so everyone has the chance to realise their full potential.”

Cambridge has often spoken out against such companies as Oxbridge Applications, which it says get financial gain from tapping into the fears of students and parents.

Charlotte Richer, the CUSU access officer, told TCS, “Companies such as Oxbridge Applications make a profit from deliberately perpetuating the myths that surround the Cambridge admissions process, something that CUSU and the University work very hard to dispel.”

She added, “The advice and preparation that they give is, at best, given for free by the University, and often riddled with inaccuracies or huge misrepresentations.”

“Any student or school who wants to prepare for the admissions process is far better speaking directly to the University and saving their money.”

Alex Glasner

News Editor