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Reply from the Principal of St Hugh's college., Mr. Derek Wood,
OXCSSA (Oxford Chinese Students and Scholars Association)
STATEMENT BY THE PRINCIPAL OF ST HUGH'S COLLEGE OXFORD
I am concerned to learn that a story has been circulating in numerous Chinese newspapers throughout the world about the alleged academic successes of a Chinese student at this College, Ms Wu Yang. The stories suggest that she obtained full marks in eleven subjects in two disciplines, making her the first student in the 800 year history of the University to achieve such a result. The claim is made that, in recognition of this outstanding achievement, the University has conferred a doctorate upon her, and awarded her a scholarship of 60,000 a year, also believed to be a record amount.
The Chinese newspapers have stated that this story was first published by The Sun newspaper in London.
These stories are false in many respects. The facts are that Wu Yang was admitted as an undergraduate at this College in October 1999 to read for a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics. Shortly after she arrived she changed her course, and registered for a joint honours degree in Mathematics and Computation. In her first examination, at the end of her first year, she took five papers and did sufficiently well to be placed in the First Class, with many other students. It is not correct to say that she took eleven subjects, and not correct to say that she obtained full marks on all her papers.
In recognition of her success at the end of her first year the College awarded her a College Exhibition, which is a prize entitling her to a payment of 60 a year, not 60,000. The University has not awarded her a doctorate. Nobody is awarded a doctorate until they have completed a first degree course and then have successfully completed a further period of research and submitted a thesis worthy of a doctorate.
Wu Yang continued to work satisfactorily on the second year of her course but, because of funding difficulties, has withdrawn from Oxford for a year. We look forward to welcoming her back in October 2002, when she can complete the third and final year of her undergraduate studies.
Some of the stories also suggest that she had to study late at night in the toilets and in the corridors so as not to disturb her hostel mates. Our students do not sleep in hostels or dormitories. Each student is assigned a study-bedroom of his or her own, and our College Library is open 24 hours a day. The idea that a student has to work in the corridors or toilets bears no relation to the realities of life in an Oxford college.
The Sun newspaper in London has never reported such a story, and I am concerned that readers of Chinese newspapers have been seriously misled. The College welcomes many students from China to study here. We have strong links with some of the most famous universities in China and a significant number of our most able students are Chinese graduates studying for doctorates. We are proud of our connections with China and hope that this misleading story will not damage that relationship.
DEREK WOOD QC
21 November 2001
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