Oxford accused of ‘social apartheid’ as colleges admit no black students

Nearly one in three Oxford colleges failed to admit a single black British A-level student in 2015, with the university accused of “social apartheid” over its admissions policies by the former minister David Lammy.

The data shows that 10 out of 32 Oxford colleges did not award a place to a black British pupil with A-levels in 2015, the first time the university has released such figures since 2010. Oriel College only offered one place to a black British A-level student in six years.

Similar data released by Cambridge revealed that six colleges there failed to admit any black British A-level students in the same year.

Lammy first requested the ethnicity data from Oxford and Cambridge in 2016. While Cambridge provided it immediately, Oxford finally released it on Thursday after it was informed that the Guardian was preparing a story.

As part of a set of data released by the two universities that also revealed a stark regional and socio-economic divide in their intake, the figures showed that just 1.5% of all offers from the two universities to UK A-level students went to black British candidates.

Lammy said the figures showed that many colleges at both Oxford and Cambridge failed to reflect the UK’s population, and called into question the universities’ claims to national standing.

“This is social apartheid and it is utterly unrepresentative of life in modern Britain,” Lammy said.

The figures are the first to update the embarrassing data published in 2010 – after freedom of information requests by Lammy – that revealed Merton College, Oxford had not offered a single place to a black British student for five years.

While the new data represents an improvement from before 2009 – when 21 Oxbridge colleges offered no places to black students, compared to 16 in 2015 – the figures suggest that elite colleges still struggle to recruit black British school pupils, especially from state schools.

A handful of black British students – an average of 3.5 each year between 2010 and 2015 – who do not have A-levels gain places at Oxford. In most cases they come from independent schools that enter their pupils for alternative exams such as the international baccalaureate.

The new figures also show that some parts of the country – especially disadvantaged regions of Wales and the north-west of England – have largely missed out on efforts by the two universities to widen their admissions base and admit students from outside the south of England.

 

 

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