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An old boy network, or society, can refer to social and business connections among former pupils of male-only private schools.

This can apply to the network between the graduates of a single school, also known as an old boy society and similar to an alumni association. It can also mean a network of social and business connections among the alumni of various prestigious schools. In popular language, old boy network or old boy society has come to be used in reference to the preservation of social elites in general; such connections within the British Civil Service formed a primary theme in the British Broadcasting Corporation's satirical comedy series Yes Minister.


In Australia the term "Old Boy" is used to describe a male alumnus of some prestigious state and private schools. The term "Old Girl" is similarly used for a female alumnus of such schools.

In Australia there has been academic research to identify the extent of the "Old Boy/Girl network" among Australia's elite, using Who's Who in Australia (a listing of notable Australians) as a sample of people in elite positions. This research shows that a small number of private and selective state schools have Old Boys/Old Girls who disproportionately hold elite positions in Australian sociaty.

In the latest research the top ten Australian schools for Old Boys/Old Girls in Who's Who in Australa are::


The term is also used in Canada, where the alumni of such schools as St. Andrew's College, Sterling Hall School, St George's School, and Upper Canada Collegemarker are known as Old Boys. The old boy network of Upper Canada Collegemarker has been so influential in the political and business realms of Canada that the book Old Boys: The Powerful Legacy of Upper Canada College (ISBN 978-1551990057), by James Fitzgerand, was published in 1994.



Former students of the Welham Boys School refer to their society as the Welham Old Boys Society. Though the school was founded in 1937, the society was not founded until 1983. The group is intended to encourage Welham graduates to aid in the school's success through their union; they have established scholarships and bursaries for deserving students. The Welham Old Boys Network has established definite membership criteria, as well as requiring a subscription fee. The Doon School, one of the most prestigious private schools in India, maintains its own old boy society for social connections and fundraising on behalf of the college. Old boys of the Doon School are known as doscos.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdommarker, the affiliation between former pupils of public schools, as well as Oxford Universitymarker and/or Cambridge Universitymarker, is known as an old boys network.

Other terms

  • The expression old school tie has essentially the same meaning as the business association interpretation of old boy network. This expression derives from school tie indicating that the wearer is an old boy of a particular school. This expression is sometimes also used in Australia, where there is a system of grammar schools which base themselves on British public schools and have a similar association with the upper class.
  • An old girl network is essentially the same sort of organization, official or unofficial, for girls' schools.

See also


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