A World of Gap Years and Gilt Frames

From Planet 228

by Polly Manning

Congratulations to Polly Manning who has won the 2017 Planet Young Writers’ Essay Competition. In her essay, she tells the story of why she transferred from Oxford University to Swansea University after only nine days among the dreaming spires. She argues how higher education in Wales should present a progressive alternative to the cult of the Russell Group and the embedded privilege it represents.

The envelope came through our letterbox on the 6th of January. ‘Dear Miss Manning, I am delighted to be writing to you with the good news that...’ My parents hugged me and my dad nearly cried – it had been a long wait. I’d just been accepted into Oxford University, only three months after the university was named the best in the world. The letter was the end result of a long project, childhood dreaming of the romantic spires, the thrilling debates and – you guessed it – of prestige. The interview process had been demanding – I broke down in tears in one – but I emerged triumphant.

Radcliffe Camera and All Souls College © Tejvan Pettinger (bit.ly/2x5DmMb)

Radcliffe Camera and All Souls College © Tejvan Pettinger (bit.ly/2x5DmMb)

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