18 March 2010

You must be joking...

When I arrived in Oxford, I heard about these inefficiencies and ridiculous bureaucratic practices that I would find here. I talked to second and third year scholars who told stories about their high stress levels brought on by the maze that is the Oxford system. And, as I did with most things, I thought that their stories and advice seemed a bit exaggerated. Surely, things couldn't be that bad. Well, this blog post is going to be incredibly easy to write, because I am going to just copy text from my college website. While I occassionally use hyperbole to make my point, these are taken verbatim from the site. Enjoy.

On "What is my candidate number?" (A number that I must use to submit one of my assessed projects....tomorrow). [my comments in brackets]

"Amazingly, we don't actually have your candidate numbers [amazingly, indeed.], but you can find them on Student SelfService on the Academic and Assessment Information page. Alternatively the number should [should being the operative word] be at the top of the individual exam timetable that you (will eventually) receive.

If all else fails [Are you suggesting that all else might fail? How reassuring...], contact the exam schools" [And they will get back to you in the next 6 months...]

You know when "if all else fails" appears in the institutionalized advice that you are in trouble.

On finding out when your exams will take place...(So that you can know when to show up in your sub fusc (see photo above), when you can schedule flights home, and other trivial details)[my comments in brackets]

"The official low-down on the dates of your exams can be found here: (website listed)

But this isn't very useful since the exam schools sometimes don't see fit to publish timetables until about 30 minutes before you start. [What?!]

Fortunately each subject tends to have its exams at a certain time which only varies slightly [Fortunately?! How do we define "slightly"?] from year to year. So for the purpose of planning it's quite helpful [only compared to not knowing anything at all] to know when your subject's exams were last year (but there is obviously [obviously!] no guarantee [translation: we are not liable for anything we are telling you] that this year's exams will be on the same dates as last year's [so, best of luck to you!]). This can be worked out (laboriously) [their word, not mine] from OXAM/by asking your tutors, but I also have exam dates for last year in a big folder here in the Tutorial Office marked 'EXAMS TAKING PLACE' (2009) [But, just remember that we have clarified that this information may or may not be accurate. Use at your own risk...hehe.] So if you have any questions about when your subject's exams were last year feel free to get in touch or swing by the Tutorial Office. [And we will tell you that we don't really know anything, but you can certainly look at our folder of information. Cheers!]

Wow. I feel my stress-level rising.

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