Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Well-Connected, Ambitious Blowhard: Toby Young Is Just What Education Doesn't Need

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Well-Connected, Ambitious Blowhard: Toby Young Is Just What Education Doesn't Need

Article excerpt

Byline: Ellen E Jones

IDIDN'T go to university with Toby Young, controversial appointee to the new Office for Students (OfS) board, but I feel like I did. You'll meet a fair few Tobys at the union bar, cracking one decent joke for every 25 sexist ones, loudly advocating their tediously contrary opinions late into the night and then bizarrely emerging, three years later, with a firstclass degree and a job offer at a national newspaper.

God loves a trier and high-ranking media execs love a chancer. Certainly some kind of all-powerful deity must be looking out for the Tobys. I'm not saying they always land on their feet but to get into Cambridge University I needed 11 A-grade GCSEs, four A-grade A-levels, plus a Ucas statement stuffed with enough extra-credit activities to make Malala Yousafzai look like a slouch. To get into Oxford, Young needed, by his own admission, two Bs and a C at A-level, plus a phone call from his dad. Who was Toby Young's dad? Baron Young of Dartington, a pioneering sociologist who also you'll enjoy this happened to coin the word "meritocracy".

After Oxford, Young worked briefly for the Times then Vanity Fair he was sacked from both wrote two wellreceived books and had his experiences turned into a crap film starring Simon Pegg. He reinvented himself as a campaigner for free schools, became a prominent cheerleader for the Conservative Party and appeared on Come Dine With Me. He seems to have done everything except work in higher education in any official capacity. The Department for Education said he had, but Young clarified that supervising undergrads while researching a later-abandoned doctorate doesn't count.

So credit where it's due; it's not Young seeking to represent himself as other than what he is: a well-connected, inexplicably ambitious blowhard who, at 54, retains the sense of humour of a desperately undersexed undergrad. …

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