Era of racial diversity yet to arrive in UK educational institutes

21 of Oxford and Cambridge colleges made no offers to black students

9th December 2010: Soon after it emerged 21 of Oxford and Cambridge colleges made no offers to black students the previous year, it is apparent the era of racial diversity is yet to arrive.
When Barack Obama was elected the US President two years ago, it was largely believed worldwide that racism was slowly becoming a thing of the past as the society was marching towards egalitarianism and classlessness.

Even as the educational institutes are coming out with their own explanations, the startling information dug up by MP David Lammy suggest the chapter of racial diversity is yet to open.

Cambridge accepted six black Caribbean undergraduates for the academic year beginning autumn 2009. Offers were not made to black students that year at 11 Oxford colleges and 10 Cambridge colleges.

The data gathered by Lammy indicates worst offender is Oxford collge, Merton. It did not admit black students in previous five years and just one in the previous decade.

Lammy’s requests under the Freedom of Information Act also brought to fore the fact that at Oxford 89 per cent is upper and middle-class, while the figure is 87.6 per cent at Cambridge.

Both universities have programmes to encourage applications from black and working-class backgrounds. But the figures reveal white students had higher success rates than black applicants at every Cambridge college except one.

At St Catharine’s, black candidates had a 38 per cent success rate, compared with 30 per cent for white students.

The authorities concerned have their own explanations for lesser number of black students. A spokesman for Oxford was quick enough to react by saying: Black students apply disproportionately for the most oversubscribed subjects, contributing to a lower than average success rate for the group as a whole: 44 per cent of all black applicants apply for Oxford’s three most oversubscribed subjects, compared with just 17 per cent of all white applicants.

“That means nearly half of black applicants are applying for the same three subjects, the three toughest subjects to get places in. Those subjects are economics and management, medicine, and maths.

“This goes a very long way towards explaining the group’s overall lower success rate.
But the data reveals the absence of racial diversity in staff. The data shows more out of than 1,500 academic and lab staff at Cambridge, none are black. The only saving grace is that 34 are of British Asian origin.

The figures on undergraduate admissions from Oxford also suggest there is no shortage of black candidates.

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