Carys Roberts University College Oxford - Young Univ GalleryUniv Dates: 2008-2011

Degree: BA PPE

Degree Level: Undergraduate

Occupation: Chief Economist and Head of the Centre for Economic Justice at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and editor of IPPR’s journal, Progressive Review.

Biography: Through her work Carys has appeared on BBC Breakfast, Sky, BBC Radio 4 and 5Live discussing economic policy. Before IPPR, Carys worked in the charity sector. She holds an MSc in Social Policy Research from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where she won prizes for an outstanding dissertation and overall performance across the degree.


How was your Univ interview?

I had a slightly weird interview experience because I hadn’t told anyone I’d applied. I’d told my boss at my Saturday job and that was it, my parents didn’t even know. I had applied the year before to a different college and didn’t get in. I was going to go to LSE but I was sorting through some papers at home and found a Univ prospectus with all the tutors listed. I decided to try again and apply to Univ this time around. It was a sliding doors moment!

I found the interview at Univ surprisingly fun. Of course I was nervous – everyone is. But the questions were interesting and I enjoyed working through a problem thoroughly. The tutors were much more approachable than I expected and helped me with the questions when I got stuck.

How do you think Univ helped shape the person you have become?

My years at Univ were extremely formative. I met people who will be close friends for life, and was taught by tutors who I’m still in touch with. I learned the discipline of working hard on academic study but also on projects that were important to me, like volunteering. I developed my thinking and writing: I often think of my degree as a workout for my brain.

In terms of my degree, I didn’t expect to like economics, I thought it was going to be the one I did for a year and dropped. It ended up being my favourite by quite a long way!

Do you have a favourite memory from your time at College?

My favourite times at College were probably the Open Days and helping out during the interview period. I found it really rewarding to meet people who might have certain expectations about Oxford and to talk with them about what it was like to study at Univ.

What does being Chief Economist and Head of the Centre for Economic Justice involve?

We publish research and develop policy ideas that we believe would lead to an economy that is both prosperous and just. We try to find the right answers and persuade the public and politicians they should be adopted. It’s a brilliant job and never boring. A typical week might include helping someone in my team with a problem, meeting political advisors, reading economic research, talking about an economic issue on the radio and writing an article.

What drives you?

My primary motivation when it comes to work is to make a positive difference. The average person works 80,000 hours in their job, which is a lot of time to dedicate to something which is not doing any good in the world!

What do you think the importance of the Young Univ Gallery project is?

I hope that the project will encourage people who might not know what to expect from an Oxford college to visit and apply. I also hope that the project inspires people at Univ to explore a broad range of careers. There are so many more choices than those presented at careers fairs. Life is too short to do something that doesn’t fulfil you.


Carys Roberts University College Oxford - Young Univ Gallery