Bookies inspire freshers to hit the books

Those doubtful about their chances of attaining academic success at Oxford may find some comfort in a scheme launched by gaming company Ladbrokes.

Students coming up in 2013 can now place a bet on how successful their time at Oxford will be, and have the chance to win big if they guess their final degree classification correctly.

After entering their choice of university and A-Level grades, students can see their chances of achieving anything from a first to a third mapped out in front of them. Not only this, but they can find out whether their subject makes them more or less likely to achieve a first than their friends.

Students will have two months from the beginning of their course to place a bet.Despite catering to twenty of the UK’s top universities and 15 different courses, some aspects of the system remain simplistic. Not only does the algorithm not cater to qualifications other than A-Levels, it refuses to recognise the A* grade that has come to make a home in Oxford in recent years.

The site also fails to acknowledge the well-known differences between the Oxford and Cambridge teaching systems by giving the two universities nearly identical sets of odds.

Ladbrokes announced a two month trial period for the scheme earlier this month, during which a ten pound limit has been placed on the amount that students are permitted to bet.

This is not the first time students or confident parents have tried to achieve financial gain from their assured success or failure. According to Ladbrokes representative Alex Donohue: “Every year we get requests from parents who want to back their pride and joy to go on and get top grades at universities.”

“We decided to build a site that streamlines the process and sets it up in a more formal way.”

For those who might be more interested in a source of debt relief, it seems that most of the profit is to be made in the humanities. Assuming a student received at least three As at A-Level, they stand to quadruple their initial bet upon receiving a first in History, Languages or Philosophy.

The real money, however, is to be found in the rare case of students who came to Oxford with fewer than three As at A-Level. In this case, Ladbrokes’ algorithm gives these Oxonians a 100/1 chance of achieving any degree classification at all.

Those who feel a little daunted by the prospect of years of intense study may take solace in the thought of high winnings for those who leave Oxford with a third, with the odds of a medic achieving one being given at 9/1.

Students studying more practical subjects seem to be trusted more by the site to achieve academic success. The probability of an Oxford mathematician achieving the top honour is greater than 2/1, with all three sciences coming in ahead of the Languages and Humanities.

Several Freshers have found the scheme comforting at what can be a worrying time. Niamh Mcintyre, an incoming English student at Wadham, commented: “The week before I enrolled at Oxford, I was as nervous as any other fresher.”

“Apparently, I have an outside chance of getting a 3rd at 10/1. Anxieties assuaged, I will now be confidently embarking on life at Oxford, dodging tutorials and lectures at my leisure, safe in the knowledge that the bookies are paying me 90 whole pounds to do so. I think I know who’s winning.”