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David Lammy criticises Oxbridge as new data shows that some colleges did not admit any black students in 2015


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Oxbridge have been accused of 'social apartheid' after new data reveals that some colleges did not admit any black A-level students in 2015.

According to data obtained by the former Higher Education Minister David Lammy under the Freedom of Information Act, 1 in 3 University of Oxford colleges and 1 in 5 University of Cambridge colleges failed to allocate places to black students. 

There was also a clear regional and socio-economic divide with applicants from the South of England, mostly from a “privileged” background, being far more likely to be offered a place than those from the North.

Oxford’s Magdalen College and St Edmund Hall only made two offers to black A-Level applicants while Oriel college made one in the period of six years. 

In the same period, around a quarter of Cambridge colleges failed to make any offers to black British applicants.

In a statement the Labour MP said:

“There are almost 400 Black students getting 3 A’s at A Level or better every year.” 

“Difficult questions have to be asked, including whether there is systematic bias inherent in the Oxbridge admissions process that is working against talented young people from ethnic minority backgrounds.”

 Oxford and Cambridge took the majority of their students from the South of England and a large proportion of offers were made to students from the top two social classes.

Between 2010 and 2015, Oxford made more offers to applicants from the London Borough of Richmond - one of the richest boroughs in the UK - than the entirety of Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool combined.

Lammy has called for universities to directly contact talented students from under-represented areas and backgrounds and encourage them to apply, pointing to top American institutions Harvard and Yale who currently do this.

“Yale employs staff in every single state to connect with talented but hard-to-reach students who may lack the confidence or support networks to apply to the Ivy League.

"Excluding bursaries, Oxbridge are spending around £10m a year on outreach. It’s clear that whatever they’re doing isn’t working,” Lammy wrote in The Guardian.

Other reforms he believes will benefit disadvantaged and underrepresented students includes the introduction of a foundation year option and a centralised admissions process, as opposed to the current system that sees individual colleges interview students and offer places.

A spokesperson from the University of Oxford said:

“Rectifying this is going to be a long journey that requires a huge, joined effort across society - including from leading universities like Oxford - to address serious inequalities.”

Meanwhile a spokesman from Cambridge University said their admissions decisions are based on academic considerations alone.  


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