AN INTERNATIONAL row over Oxford's reputation as a top university has broken out after a broadside by two American Rhodes scholars.

The Harvard students condemned the university as "outdated" and said the Bodleian Library was "less than inspiring".

Melissa Dell, 23, from Oklahoma, and Swati Mylavarapu, 23, from Florida, made their comments in a joint article in The Harvard Crimson, a newspaper produced by the Ivy League university.

In the article, entitled Oxford Blues, they advised students to "think twice" before attending and following in their footsteps.

They added: "As enchanting as the university's ancient spires may seem, Oxford's outdated academic system is far less charming."

Ms Dell, studying economic and social history at Trinity College, and Mylavarapu, taking the same subject at Wolfson, claimed some dons farmed out teaching to junior researchers.

The article provoked more than 130 online comments on the Harvard Crimson website, many from Oxford alumni and mostly hostile.

A current Rhodes scholar wrote: "You've made the American Rhodes scholar community look ungrateful and pretentious."

This weekend, the pair said in a statement: "We do not by any means presume to speak for all Rhodes scholars, but merely wished to make public what some students at Oxford complain about."