Uproar over Varsity booking “cock up”

News University News

Hundreds of students due to matriculate on Saturday morning faced anxiety over whether they would receive a place on the Varsity ski trip due to a timings conflict between the two Oxford traditions.

The decision of event organisers, NUCO, to open booking at 8am on Matriculation Saturday caused havoc for many Freshers, as they were forced to navigate compulsory attendance at the Sheldonian theatre, and successfully reserving a place on the [self-titled] “largest student ski trip in the world”.

Two-thousand Varsity tickets sold in just ninety minutes on Saturday after booking opened at 8am, and the trip is notorious for selling out in record time.

Freshers at colleges due to matriculate at 9.30 or 10am, such as Christ Church, University, and Regent’s Park, were forced to arrive late to their College matriculation photo in order to ensure they managed to book a place on the trip.

At Regent’s Park, the rush to meet matriculation demands and book a spot on the Varisty trip meant that many students were still in their rooms booking just half an hour before their matriculation slot.

The process was, according to one male Fresher: “The most stressful part of my time at Oxford so far.”

First year Philosophy and Theology student Beth Hibbert, said: “The process could have been made a lot less stressful if the Varsity organisers had realised that this was Matriculation day at Oxford.”

“This was a busy day for all Freshers, and a simple glance at the University term card should have warned [the organizers] against choosing the thirteenth of October as [Varsity] booking day.”

Other students were disappointed and confused by the “estimated booking time” system on the website, which erratically predicted the time that users would reach the front of the booking queue. This led to uncertainty as to whether one’s booking slot would clash with their College matriculation time.

Olivia McCormick, a first-year Historian at St Peter’s, said: “We were due to matriculate at eleven o’clock, but the [estimated booking time on the Varsity website] kept changing.“[It said] I would be able to book at 10:50, then it changed to 9:20 and then back up to 10:53.

“The numbers seemed randomly chosen and were useless for scheduling my day.”

The unreliability of the system combined with early matriculation times forced another fresher to ask her friend at another College matriculating at an earlier time to book a Varsity place for her.

She said: “The whole affair was a total cock-up”

Students said that although booking itself was speedy and convenient, helped along especially by the pre-registration system, it was let down by the concentrated group of students trying to book a place at the same time.

Another student complained that the rush of trying to combine matriculation and booking a varsity ski spot added an unnecessary element of stress to the process. He added that this was not helped by emails being sent out at 10am advertising that tickets were selling quickly.

Freshers compromise a third of the Varsity ski trip’s intake, but figures have not yet been released to confirm if this will be the case once again this year.

NUCO were unavailable when asked to comment.