Oxford University accused of 'social apartheid' for low number of black students

Annette Crawford
October 21, 2017

As just 1.5 percent of all spots from Oxford and Cambridge universities to United Kingdom A-level students went to black British candidates, the data show a socioeconomic divide, said Lammy.

The data also showed that Cambridge offered places to more students from four of the Home Counties - 2,953 - than from the entire of the north of England - 2,619 - in the same period. At England's other most elite university, Cambridge, 6 out of 31 colleges did not accept any black British students in 2015. Cambridge provided it immediately; Oxford finally released it on Thursday.

It also found that half of the students from both institutions were drawn from London and the southeast, compared to 11 percent of applicants from the Midlands and 15 from the north of the country.

The university said students from Black and minority ethnic background's comprised 15.9 percent of its United Kingdom undergraduate intake a year ago, a slight increase from 14.5 percent back in 2015. This raises questions about "whether there is systematic bias inherent in the Oxbridge admissions process that is working against talented young people from ethnic minority backgrounds", he said.

More than 48% of Cambridge offers went to applicants from London and the South East, in contrast to 17% from the North, 12% from the Midlands and 2% from Wales.

Writing on the Guardian, Lammy said he was "appalled to discover" Oxbridge is actually moving backwards in terms of elitism.

In a joint letter to Louise Richardson, the Oxford vice-chancellor, and Stephen Toope, Cambridge's vice-chancellor, Lammy said: "I have been made aware that your press teams have been demanding corrections to stories that are factually correct and accurately refer to the figures provided", and called on them to investigate.

"On the whole, the areas sending few students to Oxford tend also to be the areas with high levels of disadvantage and low levels of attainment in schools. All of this shows real progress and is something we want to improve on further", the spokesman said.

Speaking to The Guardian, an Oxford spokesperson said rectifying the problem would be "a long journey that requires huge, joined-up effort across society - including from leading universities like Oxford - to address serious inequalities".

As for Cambridge, a spokesman there said its admissions decisions were based on academic considerations alone, as it spent 5 million pounds (a little over 6 million USA dollars) on measures aimed at working with Black and other minority students.

"We are committed to admitting the best students who will thrive on our courses", he added, revealing it spends £5 million a year on access measures, which includes work focused with black and ethnic minority students.

A spokesman for Cambridge said its admissions were based on academic considerations alone, adding that the greatest barrier to disadvantaged students was poor results.

In total, just 1.5 per cent of all offers made by the two universities were to black British students.

The university is working hard to improve its acceptance rates of minorities, the spokesperson said, and to encourage more high school graduates from those communities to apply.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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