Beyond Oxbridge barred from Freshers’ Fair

first_imgThe Oxford University Students’ Union has been strongly criticised following a decision to ban a company from the Fresher’s Fair because it is not in their own commercial interests.Beyond Oxbridge is an independent careers website providing job vacancies, internships and careers advice for Oxbridge students and graduates. However, OSSL, OUSU’s business arm, also have a similar website, called Oxbridge Careers.OUSU claim that the two are in direct competition and have therefore banned them from the fresher’s fair – despite having initially granted them a stall. Members of the Beyond Oxbridge team have expressed outraged at the decision, saying that it has left a “bad taste” in their mouths.They also criticised OUSU for being “hopeless” and for “picking fights to try and demonstrate their own importance.”One law student from Merton added, “I think it’s OUSU just trying to throw its weight around to try and get a bit more recognition.”Beyond Oxbridge was initially granted a stall by Jake Leeper, organiser of the Freshers’ fair, but the offer was later overturned by Ed Batty, the advertising co-ordinator for the fair.An OUSU representative told Beyond Oxbridge managers that because their company ran in direct competition with Oxbridge Careers, they would not be allowed to sign up new students at the Freshers’ Fair.The representative stressed that this was not intended to single out Beyond Oxbridge, but was in line with OUSU’s firm anti-competition policy.Jessica Bland, part of the Beyond Oxbridge team expressed her anger at OUSU’s actions, suggesting that theirs was a venture that the Students’ Union should be supporting.Bland also questioned OUSU’s claim that the sites are even in direct competition, citing a lack of content on Oxbridge Careers.“They haven’t filled the site with anything,” she said. “They may do very soon, but right now it’s not populated, it’s not providing the service they said it would do.“And if they’re not providing the service then why exclude another graduate-run website that is providing it?“OUSU tried to shut us off immediately, there wasn’t a negotiation, they just said ‘no you can’t have any contact with students’, even if we were willing to pay to have a commercial stall like every other commercial company.“We thought this was something that needed to be there because it wasn’t there. To suddenly have part of the university turn against us left a bad taste in my mouth in my last few weeks at uni.”OUSU President Lewis Iwu admitted that the decision had been taken in line with their “anti-competition policy,” which is in place to ensure what is commercially best for the organisation. He stressed however that this was not only reason the booking was overturned. “We have a strong anti-competition policy because we also provide a service through the careers handbook and the website,” he said.“We don’t allow people providing a similar product to what we’re providing to provide that at the Freshers’ Fair.“We’ve had discussions in the OSSL board, and the board as a whole felt that there was a conflict between the aims of OSSL and Beyond Oxbridge.”Iwu also claimed that another reason for Beyond Oxbridge’s exclusion was “to ensure that there are no conflicting messages presented at the fair.”He said that the overturning of Leeper’s decision was a routine review of the bookings for the Fair that was conducted throughout the summer.He denied that OUSU was officiously stamping on student enterprise, saying: “across OUSU we recognize the importance of student enterprise but that doesn’t mean that sometimes we don’t have to take a holistic approach and it might mean enforcing our anti-competition policy.”However, Iwu has been criticised from within OUSU. An OUSU College rep who wished to remain anonymous said, “the Freshers Fair should be about helping new students to get involved in university activities, not an exclusive promotion exercise for OUSU-sponsored enterprises.”last_img

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