Blog: March 2014

The Politics of the Oxford Union

Having shared with you some photos of the Oxford Union and some information about its illustrious history, I thought I would give you all the inside track on a part of the Oxford Union that you don’t see unless you’re at Oxford. Its internal politics:

The Oxford Union is known for the debates and speakers it has – as well as the debaters who, from the Union, represent Oxford in international competitions around the world.

What is less well known is the internal politics: To hold the illustrious office of ‘President of the Oxford Union’ you have to climb the greasiest of greasy poles in student politics. It isn’t tame and it is sometimes very nasty, but it truly makes the Oxford Union a training ground for the rough and tumble world of Westminster politics (or even international politics).

Those students that succeed in getting the hundreds of votes needed to win (without breaking the many rules for elections that the Union enforces) will drink and dine with CEOs, Presidents, Prime Ministers, International Businessmen and Financiers, Politicians, Authors, Musicians and Royalty. Not only that, but the experience of running the Union, and the prestige associated with it will give you the most impressive of CV points, invaluable in the world of work – whether that is politics or not.

The prize of being President of the Oxford Union is one worth fighting for. Your name will join that of Prime Ministers and Presidents who have held the position previously, and your chances of being an MP if you choose to enter UK politics are 1 in 3!

When you examine the Presidential photos which line the walls of the Union, you will see not just incredibly capable and promising people (many of whom are now internationally known), but people who have, against all the odds, secured the most coveted of elected positions in students politics, who have fought their way to the top of the pile, and won.

When you get a chance to visit the Oxford Union with us at Oxford Summer Courses, shown round by students, some of whom have been involved in the politics of the Union, and many of whom will have regularly attended talks and debates at it, you will get a true glimpse into and account of the side of the Oxford Union often not seen by those who just visit by themselves.

Posted: March 18, 2014

The Gleaming Spires

Oxford can be beautiful in all types of weather, be it snow in winter covering the Bodleian, or the mist on an autumn morning on Christ Church Meadows, but really it is in the sun that Oxford is at its best!

When the sun is shining the buildings in Oxford gleam, the local sandstone catches the light and throws it back on you – the intensity of it makes it seem as though the ancient buildings are alive, dancing with light and vibrancy.

Of course, England is often known for its rain and its dodgy weather – so it isn’t everyday that you see the buildings in their full glory. But when you do it truly is breath-taking.

We had a day like that yesterday, a warm front had come in, and the weather was pushing 19 oc which is great for England at this time of year. Warm enough to be outside without a coat, it felt like the best of spring. The sky was cloudless and so the sun was shining brightly – and the buildings were a dazzling spectacle of gleaming stonework – when Oxford is like that it is a million miles away from the outdated stereotype of doddery old Dons shuffling around in gowns from place to place with piles of papers in their arms. Instead it feels like it is surging, breaking out, straining the bounds of the possible.

When the Colleges gleam like that the University feels like a place where truly anything can happen, where the latest breakthrough is only a moment away.

It is rare to have that experience during Hilary Term (our spring term) – but it reminded me of last summer. We had a beautiful summer here in Oxford last year, and when you walked into the centre the Colleges felt just like that. It is such a buzz to be in the city when all around you the Oxfordshire stone is glistening in the summer sun.

So come along next summer, and experience Oxford at its brightest and best!

Posted: March 10, 2014

Student’s View: “Going to Oxford Summer Courses was the best decision I ever made”

We’re thrilled to be able to share this reflection on a summer spent with Oxford Summer Courses with you, written by one of the students who studied with us last summer. You can find him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/anishkatariya.

To apply for Oxford Summer Courses this summer click here!

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Going to Oxford Summer Courses was the best decision I ever made. I studied physics during my course .The things I leant during the course were invaluable. We went to the Oxford Physics Research labs where our classes were held. There we saw experiments happening in front of us, which not only help us learn but also amazed us a lot.

We got to know why the things we learn were significant and how they were used in everyday life .Our tutor was really helpful, and was happy to help us in any way we needed and was always ready to clear our doubts. He also challenged us from time to time to make sure we made the best out of the 2 weeks that we were there. He told us about how physics was taught at Oxford and how we shall proceed if we wanted to pursue physics in the future.

The Residential Deans at Oxford Summer Courses were really helpful and caring. They could be approached at any time and they would be happy to help. All of them were Oxford alumni, and were like mentors for us. They told us a lot about the Oxford life and what the colleges were like. They were the perfect people to ask about anything related to Oxford. They were very friendly and we could talk to them about anything from global issues to the silliest things like haircuts or looks.

In fact my course director took me for a haircut and told me how to do my hair because all the girls loved his hairstyle. Our Residential deans took us around Oxford, from the best restaurants to the oldest museums. They also took us for activities among which my favorite was punting. And may I add the best part about punting was pushing Harry (the course director) from his boat.

One of the best things about the course was witnessing a stand up act by the legend Matt Lacey. He was hilarious and his character Tarquin was amazing. Bill Spectre’s Ghost tour was really scary and awesome as well!

Even though I studied physics in the two weeks I was there I learnt much more than just physics. We had a debate night in which we got to know about the point of view of people belonging to different cultures on a certain topic! We also had TED style talks in which we had guest speakers talking on a topic each! My favorite one was Matt’s talk on how YouTube has taken over, and about the commercial side of YouTube! He also told us more about his viral video (Gap Yah!), which has over 5 million views on YouTube. We also had a quiz night in which we got to know exactly how dumb we were (Yes my group came last).  

The friends I made in Oxford are invaluable; meeting people from different countries and backgrounds was amazing. I learnt so much from them. The formal dinner we had in Wadham College was amazing! Our graduation ceremony was held at the famous Oxford Union, we also had an award ceremony before our graduation ceremony in which I won the award for the best haircut (Thanks to Harry!) Even though we were in Oxford just for two weeks we had bonded so well with each other that everyone was  really sad when the course was over. According to me the two weeks I spent in Oxford were the best two weeks of my life!

Posted: March 4, 2014

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