An English state-school pupil who was invited to Oxford University for an interview turned the tables on the institution by writing her own letter of rejection because it "did not quite meet the standard" of other universities.
In a parody of the thousands of consolatory letters fired off by the elite institution each December, Elly Nowell (19), from Hampshire, wrote: "I have now considered your establishment as a place to read Law (Jurisprudence).
"I very much regret to inform you that I will be withdrawing my application.
"I realise you may be disappointed by this decision, but you were in competition with many fantastic universities and following your interview I am afraid you do not quite meet the standard of the universities I will be considering."
The Brockenhurst College student, whose first-choice preference is University College London, wrote to Magdalen College after being put off by her interview experience. She warned the university to hold off on any attempts to "reapply".
"While you may believe your decision to hold interviews in grand formal settings is inspiring, it allows public-school applicants to flourish and intimidates state-school applicants, distorting the academic potential of both," she said, criticising the college's "traditions and rituals" and a perceived gulf between "minorities and white middle-class students".
Oxford University dismissed the claims. "Despite what the candidate said, we would point out that the actual admissions figures speak for themselves," it said, stating that of the seven UK students who received offers for the law and joint school course at Magdalen, only one was privately educated.
Law students at the college also condemned the letter.
"There are lots of state-school students here, especially on the law course. The implication that there's some kind of discrimination is ridiculous," said 20-year-old Christy Rush from Bristol.