The next big thing: Lewis Iwu, 22 | Education
Name Lewis Iwu Age 22
Education BA (Hons) in politics, philosophy and economics (2:1), New College, Oxford. A-levels in history, politics and economics (three As); 11 GCSEs, Bonaventure’s School, Forest Gate, London
Status President, University of Oxford student union
Seeking To become a corporate lawyer
Lewis Iwu, the first black president of the University of Oxford’s student union and the current world university debating champion, is tipped in some quarters as a possible British prime minister one day. So what does he make of all this hype?
“The speculation is very flattering, but there are lots of very talented people out there and I’m just focused on Oxford students right now,” he says.
Iwu was elected president of the union just before last Christmas and took up his post in June. About 3,500 students voted in the election and Iwu beat his nearest rival, Olivia Bailey, by 450 votes. He puts victory as the students’ choice down to his friendly manner, good communication skills and ability to come up with good ideas and execute them. He also adds that he pledged to be “competent, improve club nights and be a good representative”.
At the moment Iwu is spending his working day lobbying against rising tuition fees and doing his utmost to ensure that student accommodation provided by the university – which varies from £900 to £1,200 a term – remains affordable.
Weeks after becoming president of the union, Iwu won the world university debating championship with his debating partner, Samir Deger-Sen, then an Oxford student. Victory was particularly sweet because they set a world record by winning the debate with 25 points – the previous best had been 24.
“I felt ecstatic, when I realised we had won,” says Iwu. “There has been a trend of postgraduates winning the championship and so as an undergrad, I felt it was a great achievement.”
Iwu admits to admiring another president renowned for his debating skills – Barack Obama. “I am pleased that a grassroots politician who inspired lots of people to vote won the US presidential election. His election is a victory for grassroots politics.”
Away from his day job, Iwu likes to play football and coach members of Oxford’s debating society.
Iwu’s student life has clearly been eventful but, he says, the most rewarding aspect of it hasn’t been his election as president or winning the debating competition. It has been meeting students from diverse backgrounds, because this has “enhanced my own view of the world”, he says.
Iwu’s period in office will come to an end next June. He won’t be seeking re-election as he will be going to law school for two years in September 2009.
In five years’ time he hopes to be making his mark as a corporate lawyer, but he’s not ruling out a career in national politics one day.
“How I feel right now may be completely different from how I’ll feel in 10 years’ time,” he says.