Oxford: 'Black students apply for subjects with lower acceptance rates,' says Toby Young

Oxford: 'Black students apply for subjects with lower acceptance rates,' says Toby Young

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Oxford University is under fresh attack for failing to open up places to students from disadvantaged and ethnic minority backgrounds.

The latest annual admissions statistics report by the university showed just 11% of UK undergraduates came from disadvantaged areas, up from 7% in 2013.

The proportion of students identifying as black and minority ethnic was 18% last year, up from 14% in 2013.

There was a slight increase in the number of admissions from state schools during the same period, from 57% to 58%.

Labour MP David Lammy, who has repeatedly criticised Oxford and Cambridge over their records on admissions, said the figures showed little had changed in recent years.

"The progress is glacial. The truth is that Oxford is still a bastion of white, middle class, southern privilege. That is what it is," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"Thirty black pupils applied for computing last year. Not one of them gets in. Are we really saying there isn't a black student in Britain who can apply for computing who is worth a place at Oxford? Surely not."

Talking on the Julia Hartley-Brewer breakfast show, Joshua Tulloch, from the Oxford University African and Carribbean Society, told talkRADIO that “these issues that Lammy has exposed need to be exposed.”

“The data does show, quite evidentially, that there are institutionalised problems at Oxford but what it does not show, is that Oxford is a microcosm, that reflects the deep structural issues that are embedded in wider British society, and in the British education system," he added.

“What the admissions data does not tell us is how many young black students are actively discouraged from applying to Oxford despite achieving the grades.”

Journalist Toby Young said: “The reason the acceptance rate for black students is lower is not because Oxford is institutionally biased, it’s because black students are applying for the most popular subjects where the acceptance rates are lower.

“So, if you take that into account, it isn’t always institutional bias, there just aren’t enough black British students applying.

“The fault for that lies with the education system. We need to make sure more black students are getting the qualifications that will enable them to apply, and when they apply they’re being properly advised and they’re not just applying for the most popular subjects but for a whole range of subjects.”