Reading last week’s Cherwell, you would be forgiven for expecting this to be another OUSU campaign stump speech. But you are not going to read about the no-platform policy (nothing more than a political stunt) or how we desperately need OUSU reform (written, oddly enough, by someone who vehemently opposed any last summer). And while it might not seem like it at this time of the year, there are more important things in Oxford than OUSU elections.A group of senior tutors is plotting to remove the opportunity for students to resit preliminary examinations, even though their data suggests that there is little correlation between a poor mark at prelims and a poor mark in finals. And why, you might ask, would they want to do that?The Norrington Table has been controversial since its conception in 1962. Both its fairness and accuracy have been called into question. An inherent bias exists in the calculation of the table, as colleges with a greater number of science students fare better, since a higher proportion achieve firsts compared to arts students. In fact, there seems to be little tangible benefit to ranking colleges, besides petty bragging rights. In recent years, colleges have become focussed on moving up the Norrington Table thanks to its increased exposure in the national media. The pressure on senior tutors to achieve this goal has produced a conflict of interest; they must decide between protecting students or pursuing an arbitrary, NHS-style statistic.This was seen recently, when a senior tutor reprimanded a JCR President for accompanying a fresher to a meeting with her, claiming it elevated the issue to an “official complaint”. No such thing is mentioned in the college regulations. This was nothing more than a cynical attempt by the tutor to keep the fresher in a more vulnerable state, so she would be more easily pressured into leaving, rather than having a solution found to her problems. Indeed, it comes as no surprise that the same senior tutor spent the first page of the college’s Freshers Handbook outlining how failure to get a 2.2 or better at prelims would result in being sent down – hardly the most welcoming introduction to Oxford.Students are underrepresented. You would expect that if you had a serious problem with a tutor, you would have the ability to request a change. This is not the case at most colleges. Likewise, no provisions for a base standard of teaching exist. The student contract introduces “duties” to which a student is bound, yet doesn’t offer any consideration for students in return. Only a vague clause describing undergraduate teaching exists, stating that it “is the responsibility of both the university and college concerned”. Colleges are taking the attitude that it is easier to be rid of students who may pose a problem rather than help. The attitude of tutors is that we should be grateful for our places, and submissive to the university. This insidious behaviour is a disgrace. With such a focus on finals, colleges lose sight of the bigger picture. Tutors focus on teaching the process of jumping through hoops to do well at finals rather than allowing students to explore questions of their own. If performance at finals is the only thing that matters, the tutorial system is rendered irrelevant. Students could be more efficiently taught en masse in lecture halls, which would, ironically, defeat the value of the Norrington Table itself. Performance at finals is obviously important; but not at the risk of sacrificing a broad education and supportive university. Oxford’s tutorial system is revered across the world – and rightly so. Yet there is a risk that we are being turned into an exam factory, churning out students with little to show for their education. A mark in an exam is not the only end product of an education, as cars, chickens or computers might be for their industries. Colleges are faced with a simple choice: aim for short-term gain to their position in the Norrington Table, or protect Oxford’s reputation for academic excellence in the long-term.