Oxford University has been accused of failing to diversify its socio-economic background of their student body.
In light of recent data published by the Labour politician and former Higher Education and Skills Minister David Lammy argued that Oxbridge should give lower grade offers to working-class students in order to bridge the attainment gap.
One statistic reveals Oxford made more offers to applicants from Richmond than the whole of Manchester, Leeds & Liverpool. Another statistic revealed that more children within wealthier London consistencies, such as Hammersmith and Fulham, were far more likely to receive an offer from Cambridge than their neighbours Barking and Dagenham.
Speaking on BBC’s Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday, he said: “I just don’t think the universities fully understand what they’re doing. Oxford spent £10m on this and what we’ve seen over the last decade… is we’ve gone backwards on social class, we’ve made no progress on north/south divide and we’ve made little progress on race.”
He went on to state: “Many more children coming from London and the south east, the children of bankers, judges, making their way to Oxbridge but children in our housing estates, even if they get three A’s they’re not able to get in.”
Lammy, who has campaigned for greater diversity at Oxbridge, said the figures showed many colleges failed to not only diversify where their applications were received from, but also award black British pupils with an offer.
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. Cambridge revealed that six colleges there failed to admit any black British A-level students in the same year. Oriel College, Oxford, made just one offer to a black British A-level student in the same period.
“This is social apartheid and it is utterly unrepresentative of life in modern Britain,” Lammy said.
Rob Berkeley, director of the Runnymede Trust, a think-tank that promotes racial equality, said: “If we go for this elite system of higher education … we have got to make sure what they are doing is fair. If you look at how many people on both frontbenches are Oxbridge-educated, Oxford and Cambridge are still the major route to positions of influence.
A spokesman for Cambridge said 15% of students accepted last year were from minority ethnic backgrounds. “Over the five years to 2009 entry black students accounted for 1.5% of admissions to Cambridge, compared with 1.2% of degree applicants nationally who secure AAA at A-level. Colleges make offers to the best and brightest students regardless of their background, and where variations exist this is due to supply of applications and demand by subject.”