Ship Street Centre Lecture Theatre, Jesus College Oxford

There is a constant media frenzy surrounding the myths of Oxford and Cambridge. Across the whole of the UK, questions over the admission process and accessibility of the Oxford academic system to students of all backgrounds are rife, with few finding satisfaction in answers from higher education experts and university officials. Recent statistics show that from 2015-2017, only 228 Welsh students were admitted to Oxford, compared with 1,802 students from the South East of England. These statistics have been deemed “totally unacceptable” by Welsh MPs and lawmakers. Despite recent efforts from the Welsh Government’s “Seren” programme to encourage more students to apply to Oxbridge, as well as access schemes developed by bodies like Jesus College, Oxford, there is little sign that the link between Oxbridge and Wales is being strengthened. This panel, therefore, consists of experts and distinguished Welsh figures in the field of journalism, higher education and public affairs to tackle the story of Wales and Oxbridge. They offer their unique perspectives on the historical links between Oxbridge and Wales, why there seems to be an admissions crisis from the country, and why Welsh students should study at Oxbridge.

Please join us for lively discussion and debate!


Sian Griffiths

Sian Griffiths is the Education Editor of The Sunday Times, who was shortlisted for Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards, 2015. She was educated at St. David’s Comprehensive School, before reading English at Oxford. Her 2016 BBC Wales documentary ‘It’s an Education’ caused huge controversy and raised questions over the state of Welsh education compared to standards elsewhere in the UK.

Sir Michael Scholar

Sir Michael Scholar is a former British civil servant and former President of St John's College, Oxford. He has served as the Private Secretary to the Prime Minister (1981–83), Under Secretary HM Treasury (1983–87), and was Permanent Secretary of the Welsh Office from 1993-96. He is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and Cardiff University.

Matthew Williams

Dr Matthew Williams is the Access and Career Development Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford. He studied politics at Bristol University, and then came to Oxford in 2006 for his Masters and DPhil. During and after his doctorate he has held lectureships at seven Oxford colleges, including stints as the organising tutor for politics at Wadham and University College. He leads the college’s access initiatives, including hosting Welsh students for a Summer School every year. 

Cai Wilshaw

Cai Wilshaw is a recent graduate who is now the Head of Partnerships at Pink News, and previously served as a Programming Executive for The Economist. He was educated at Ysgol Plasmawr, and studied Classical and Ancient Studies at Oxford.

Chair: Theo Davies-Lewis

Theo Davies-Lewis is a Welsh undergraduate at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, and Chair of Darogan Cymru, an initiative to attract the best Welsh graduates back to Wales. During his time at Oxford, Theo has launched the university’s radio station and the media society. He is now in the process of writing an anthropological book on the “Welsh condition” to be released in 2020, and regularly contributes to TV, radio and print in Wales on issues such as education, politics, and history.