OUSL Activities in 2010

November-December 2010 - Practice interviews for Oxford Candidates

As in previous years the Society offered practice interviews to a number of young people applying for undergraduate degrees. The entrance interview is the final and most critical stage of selection to study as an undergraduate at Oxford. This can be a major obstacle, especially for students coming from countries where entrance to university never requires an interview. To help talented students from Luxembourg and the surrounding region win places at Oxford, OUSL offers practice interviews for applicants. We provide a volunteer team of two Oxford graduates with relevant knowledge for each course applied for and also use an independent observer to provide feedback to the applicant.

In November and early December 2010 we ran seven practice interviews: two for Biological Sciences, two for Economics & Management, one for Modern Languages, and one for Archaeology & Anthropology. Four candidates were called for interview and three of them have received offers of undergraduate places, dependent on their final marks in their school-leaving exams.

For more information about application to Oxford, see our information pages
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11th-12th November 2010 - the Oxford Stand at the annual Student Fair

Every November the Luxembourg Ministry of Education organises the “Foire de l’Etudiant” at the Luxembourg exhibition centre, to help school-leavers with their choice of higher education, and to provide information for parents and teachers. As in previous years the Society ran the Oxford stand on 11th-12th November 2010, with the support of the OU Admissions Office.

Twelve members manned the stand over the two days, helping enquirers to understand study at Oxford and the requirements for admission. We gave out more than 60 prospectuses to students who had school marks that would allow them to apply for Oxford. There was also an increased number of enquiries about graduate studies.
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28th October 2010 - EGM and Dinner with Speaker

An Extraordinary General Meeting of the Society was held at the Hôtel Le Place d’Armes on Thursday 28th October.

Following the meeting members and their guests enjoyed a splendid dinner, with a most interesting talk by our Treasurer, David Clark, on the topic of “The financial crisis, demography and human capital.”
Read a full report of David Clark’s talk.
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30th June 2010 - AGM and Dinner with Speaker

The annual General Meeting was held at the Cercle Munster, Luxembourg. At the dinner which followed the meeting, Sir Julian Priestley spoke brilliantly on the subject of leadership in Europe.
Sir Julian’s model is Jacques Delors. The British leaders he admires in the field of European affairs are Edward Heath, Lord Cockfield and Roy Jenkins. He showed how other British politicians have failed to read well the situation that Europe faced and consequently failed to guide the nation to see the advantages of union. His insights were startling. Sir Julian showed how the art of politics is not easy but that, even making due allowances, statesmen have often shown weak imagination and have balked at a challenge. Political leaders are hampered by the ignorance of the public, which is ill-served by the press. The press reinforces prejudice and obfuscates the scope for progress and reform. Sometimes the UK pursues a self-defeating policy in negotiation; for instance, in its insistence on unanimity on EU financial affairs. Here, unanimity is likely to block the reform, which Britain seeks, of the Common Agricultural Policy. It probably blocks the other abuses, of which the British are especially aware.
One element of leadership is the will to educate. Sir Julian was implicitly of the view that strong leadership, at least as much as the blind force of history, shapes our future.
Sir Julian’s speech inspired many penetrating questions from the large audience. The questions elicited further perceptive and incisive remarks on the part of Sir Julian.
The occasion demonstrated yet again the value of our Oxford association and will, hopefully, spur us all to work for truth and pragmatism in public affairs.
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8th May 2010 - Guided Visit to Metz

A successful visit to Metz was organised by our Committee Member Antonella Calvi. A full report is available — click to read.
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6th & 7th May 2010 - Helping Talented School Leavers win a place at Oxford

The Society ran a number of events for Luxembourg schools over two days, with the aim of encouraging and assisting applications for undergraduate places at Oxford. For the last five years we have been addressing school-leavers directly through our stand at the annual Foire de l’Etudiant, but we felt it was necessary to stimulate the interest of the teachers in the possibility of winning Oxford places for their most talented students.

On the evening of 6th May OUSL hosted a dinner for eleven teachers from a number of Luxembourg lycées as well as from the international schools, together with a senior official from the Ministry of Education and HM ambassador, Mr peter Bateman. We were ably assisted by the Admissions Tutor of St Peter’s, Dr Balazs Szendroi, and by Ms Cat Murdoch of the Admissions Office. Cat Murdoch briefly explained admissions procedures and Balazs Szendroi spoke about the kind of students that Oxford was looking for and the selection criteria that are used. At the end of the evening there was an interesting discussion about the desirability and the feasibility of identifying and helping potential candidates.
During the 6th and the 7th May our visitors from Oxford also made visits to talk directly to students and teachers at four schools: the Lycée Michel Rodange, the Lycée des Garçons de Luxembourg, St George’s International School and the International School of Luxembourg. In addition a meeting was held with the student counselling service of the Ministry of Education (CEDIES), which provides advice and guidance in the choice of higher education.

It was evident that there is a growing interest amongst Luxembourg school leavers in studying in the UK, but the level of achievement required to be considered for Oxford is (quite naturally) regarded as a major challenge. We shall be following up our contacts with interested teachers and in the meantime are publishing our own advice and guidance to students and teachers on our web site .
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17th April 2010 - Schubert's Die Winterreise

A Winter Journey on a sunny spring evening
Some 50 members, friends and locals gathered in Strassen at the Centre Barblé to support the leukemia charity Télévie by following the narrator of Franz Schubert’s Winterreise on his journey through the landscape of melancholy, from despair to resignation. Bass-baritone Nick Berry, renewing a partnership with pianist Rüdiger Pansch begun some years ago at Lincoln College, sang the 24 lieder from memory – a heroic feat compounded by the need to battle with the unhelpful acoustic of the Salle Barblé. What seems to have inspired Schubert was not so much the prevailing gloom in Müller’s poems (often in vogue at times of political stagnation, and no doubt echoed in Schubert’s own life – although he evidently went on to write several quite jolly pieces later) but rather the frequent and rapid changes of mood chronicled in the narration. These we were able to follow in detail, thanks to the full supporting text provided in the programme with a parallel English version, and they were brought out with impressive skill and versatility by the Berry-Pansch duo. We look forward to their return to Luxembourg, perhaps to treat us to some Hugo Wolf or Richard Strauss, in the not too distant future.
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22 January 2010 - Chris Sibson

Sadly, the Society's founding Secretary, Chris Sibson, has died after a long illness.
Read an Obituary
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16th January 2010 - A Samuel Pepys Evening

Members of the OUSL enjoyed one of the most entertaining evenings of the society's brief history in the shape of the c17 musical and literary medley on the life and times of Samuel Pepys. This offering, devised in Scotland by early music expert James Ross, was adapted for us by Chris Coggill and the late Chris Sibson, and the evening was hosted by Edward and Philippa Seymour.
The programme comprised readings from the famous diary that refer to Pepys's delight in music and dance, interspersed with contemporaneous music. Pepys writes with such spontaneous pleasure and natural innocence that one could forgive him much. There seems little that might need forgiveness, other than on the part of his wife.
He found time, despite his hedonistic life, to discharge, as an exceptionally uncorrupted and competent secretary of the Navy, the duties of a key officer of state under King Charles II, and to serve, in due course, as President of the Royal Society.
Who cannot love Samuel Pepys, who hears extracts from his diaries, read in such a rich tone and with fine phrasing as were employed by Dick Holdsworth? Pepys's values are epitomised in this famous quote, from a diary entry of March 1665:
“Music and women I cannot but give way to, whatever my business is.”
His resilient humour appears in his observation that it is “strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody.” He was often up late at night, enjoying improvised parties of dance and song. Then, after the fun, he would sit down by a candle at his desk and compose his diary. Many entries end with the brief phrase, “and so to bed”.
The programme included songs of the period, divinely sung by Barbara Hall and Chris Vigar. Among them was the work of Pepys's own proud hand, “Beauty, Retire”, as well as extracts from the first English opera, The Siege of Rhodes.
The music was played brilliantly on instruments of the Restoration period by the versatile ensemble of Eva Berg, Chris Birch, Chris Coggill, Edward Seymour, Karlheinz Backes and Mick Swithinbank.
We could imagine the audience transported, at any hour of the day or night, to the rooms of Pepys and friends, to take part in a lively song or instrumental recital, to dance a stately Coranto or a gayer, faster Jigg or to indulge in a fleeting amorous exchange.
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Oxford University News

Latest edition of Oxford Today read

Oxford University to have ‘most state school students for decades’

Almost 60% of offers made to pupils at state schools.
Read about this and the University’s extensive school outreach work.

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