It strikes me that, so far, the Channel 4 documentary College Girls is giving people a very skewed view of life in Oxbridge. I understand that documentaries have to concentrate on the more interesting aspects of their subjects, which is why the first episode was about a student activist refusing to pay her university fees and the second episode was about a girl running for a post in the Oxford Union.
However, judging from the reactions of friends at Leicester University who I watched the first episode aired, College Girls is not doing the public perception of Oxbridge any favours – so far, almost every single person shown on the programme has been privileged and frankly atypical of the average Oxbridge student. We call such people ‘socialites’ at Cambridge – I’m sure others use less diplomatic words.
Today’s episode on the Oxford Union, which the majority of Oxford students do not attend, gave the impression that most students there regularly go to black tie balls, do no work and spend their time plotting politics. No wonder people don’t like Oxbridge.
Thankfully, it seems that later episodes in the series will be more realistic, dealing with the work pressures of Oxford and the personal problems of students there. Alas, I fear that the damage has already been done – undoubtedly the series director wanted to pull in as many people as possible with the first couple of episodes, and we know that first impressions count (trust me, I’m a psychologist!)