Oxford University unveils new portraits to show diversity

Oxford University unveils new portraits to show diversity

Oxford University has unveiled its latest attempt to improve diversity by commissioning twenty new portraits to line the walls of its prestigious institution.

Oxford has been repeatedly criticised for failing to welcome enough students from low income families or state schools, and many are still under the impression that admission to the university remains inaccessible to a large fraction of society.


By displaying portraits of people from a diverse range of social backgrounds, Oxford aims to challenge this view. The selected individuals are not only from a range of classes, but also represent women, ethnic minorities, the LGBT+ community and those with disabilities, thus demonstrating that Oxford recognises and celebrates the achievements of many. Included in the portraits are professors Dame Carole Jordan and Aditi Lahiri, activist Kumi Naidoo and journalist Reeta Chakrabarti.

Such portraits are not set to replace the current “dead white males” on display, but will join them, and in doing so illustrate that successful professors, novelists, scientists and indeed students exist outside the narrow margins previously established.

Suggestions that the project is simply an excess of political correctness have been challenged by the head of the university’s equality and diversity unit. Instead, she has emphasised that the new display of pictures embody the reality of university life and the current student population.

The project has come under scrutiny due to the fact that Theresa May, amongst many other notable female alumni of the university, have not been included in the 24 commissioned pieces.

Rebecca Rogerson

(Image: Oxford University)

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