24th March 2002. Bribery in Halls of Academe.
‘The Days of the Gentleman Commoner are long gone’, academic’s retort in 2001 when a wealthy city banker, who had given £100.000 to his old college, withdrew patronage after one of his sons was not offered a ‘slight bias’ to gain entry to Oxford’s Trinity College.(1)
‘However despite Trinity’s stand some manipulation still happened’, said Professor Valentine Cunningham, tutor at Corpus Christi, on Oxford admissions, ‘as it is difficult for Colleges to turn down certain children…pressures are subtle and sometimes succumbed to’.
A year later Today in 2002, in what was known as ‘Cash for Places’ scandal at Pembroke College, Oxford, two fellows resigned, after allegations that they had offered places in return for an endowment.
However the offer was made to undercover reporters, masquerading as wealthy benefactors, in return for a £300,000 donation.(2)
It appears that they were taped making offers to journalists posing as wealthy bankers, proving that Oxford is also open to ‘one born every minute’.
Margaret-Jane Hilton in charge of fund raising who was in attendance, later resigned, and the Reverent John Platt (chaplain) left with immediate effect, no doubt for spiritual pastures new. The Rev. Doctor before his departure also appeared to confirm ‘similar arrangements’ had happened before.
The academic, but ‘wet behind the ears duo’, it seems said the money could be paid via a secret trust fund.
The Master of Pembroke, Giles Henderson, later said ‘we will review procedures’. We’ve heard that often enough! Dr. Samuel Johnson, an old alumnus, would not have been amused.
Pembroke College, named after William Pembroke the 3rd Earl Pembroke in 1624, is a major beneficiary of a scheme whereby wealthier colleges subsidize the poorer.
Founded by an Abingdon merchant Thomas Tesdale, it was he who converted Broadgates Hall, originally a hostel for law students, into a full fledged College.
(1) Daily Telegraph, 21.12.2001. Thomas Harding.
(2) Reported in D.T. 25th March, 2002. David Graves.