The Laughing Stock of Europe

Actually the system helps enormously, education is free, there are bourses according to need and and if you do well enough in exams you get bourses au mérite on top of that. Elitism in the best sense of the word and I support it wholeheartedly. My university education in the UK (and in Germany) cost my parents nothing, but that was in the good old days.

College, sixth form college do you mean?
I do think that where you go to school and then university is actually at least as significant in the UK than in France, if not more so, particularly school.


But Mark, don’t you think it’s normal that having been to a “good” school and a “good” university should count for something in later life? Otherwise, it would make a nonsense of parents making sure to send their kids to a good school, kids working hard to get to get good exam results, win a place at Oxbridge or wherever, and keep stretching themselves to get a first or do the best they can, if there were no rewards to be reaped at the end of it. I woudn’t call it élitism as such, just recognition of the fact that some people are high flyers/hard workers, and some aren’t. It’s an obvious way of differentiating between candidates and picking out those who had real potential and have fulfilled it.


Odd choice of words for a guy in his early 40’s…

I was at the CFE/Sixth form. Not strictly studying at the university colleges but that is where we spent most of our time. LOL. That was when Oxford was Oxford. The good old days.

It feels a long time. 23 years ago.


Well, no, not studying there at all, is what you mean.


Do you have to study there to understand Oxford ?

It helps. You aren’t really in the same world if you aren’t a member of the university. I went to the other place but the same thing applies.


I think you can see life more objectively if you were not studying there. We all went to the same pubs and college bars. I had many friends there.

I guess life has changed a lot in Oxford. I guess people don’t mingle so much now.

When I got a job after uni a girl joined our company who was an Oxford grad. She did not last long. Well out of her depth.

Which brings me onto another story. A French friend of mine graduated from a very famous French engineering school (rural as well if you can guess it) who was given a job as a plant manager for a multinational in France. He only got the job because the person interviewing him was from the same school. The scary thing is, he could not change a plug or even be trusted with a pair of scissors.

From what you have written on the differences between a a city living Français and his peasant counterpart I would have assumed that any rural Frenchman would have been intrinsically practical. He would have been able to weld a plug onto any gauge of electrical wire and hone a pair of scissors out of an old shutter hanger. I really cannot believe that that is a true story. Surely, sir, you exaggerate!

The famous engineering school is rural. Try and guess it.

He was from Chalon sur Saône.

You saw one aspect of life at Oxford, from the point of view of someone doing A levels. That isn’t at all the same as being an undergraduate, you don’t have enough real knowledge to be objective I’m afraid.

When I was an undergraduate (longer ago than you were) people used to socialise from time to time with people from CCAT or language schools or nurses from Addenbrooke’s but socialising in town is all it was, they weren’t in the same time-zone as we were, for want of a better metaphor.

Plant managers manage, plug-changing and wielding scissors isn’t really their remit, it wouldn’t be cost-effective now would it. There are many different types of ingénieur, it isn’t just mechanics.

OK… but it seems normal to me.
So according to you, you spend all those years at school and university, then as soon as you graduate you wipe the slate clean and throw all that in the bin as if it had no relevance to real life. You want to put everyone on a level playing field to start again from scratch, past achievements to be disregarded. Is that how you think it should be? Why?

Going to pubs and bars is not really the most important part of being a student, is it. Going to pubs is what serious students do to unwind. It’s what they do in the rest of the time that is going to matter in the future. Or not, in your view.

Amazing how you can see inside everybody’s mind to state with confidence exactly what skills each person had and didn’t have and exactly why recruiters chose this or that person for the job. Maybe the recruiter knew the job did not involve changing plugs or using scissors.

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I should think Arts et Metiers in Cluny, if he stayed local. The boyfriend of one of my daughters is there now.

Have to totally agree on this point Vero.

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And you of all people should know :wink:

Yes it is the school in Cluny.

Apparently she is in tears in Downing Street and the rest of the country, apart from the awful right wing, are in tears in their own homes.

In response to a couple of points - I live in rural France. All of my friends with kids work. None of them has ever expressed the idea that childcare is expensive and the vast majority think that Brexit is a joke.

I’m more than prepared to concede that this may be due to the types of people I hang out with - working professionals rather than elderly farmers - so I guess that just goes to prove that you can’t generalise :slight_smile:


All I can say is that if I was an employer, I would put everyone graduating from university (or 6th form) on a level playing field.