Oxbridge Accused of “Social Apartheid”

Oxford and Cambridge University, often perceived as the most prestigous academic institutions in the country,  are being accused of ‘social apartheid’ after failing to admit a single black student to a number of their colleges. 

One in five of Cambridge Colleges and one in three Oxford Colleges failed to admit a single black A- Level student into their Colleges in 2015, according to data requested by David Lammy, a former Labour Education Minister. 

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

The data collected revealed the severe regional and socio-economic divide in their intake, with only 1.5% of all the offers made to UK A-level students belonging to black British applicants. 

The Universities are England’s oldest and most respected higher education institutions. They are both made up of independent colleges which are in control of their own admissions. Oxbridge has educated many of Britain’s top
politicians including 27 Prime Ministers. 

MP David Lammy has been campaigning to gain access to information about offers made to A-Level students of Black and Caribbean descent, in order to highlight the admissions bias in relation to these students. Cambridge supplied a breakdown of its offers and applicants but Oxford refused their initial request. 

The data obtained did show an improvement from 2009, where 21 Oxford Colleges did not admit a single black student compared to the 16 in 2015, but the data does show that the elite colleges do struggle to recruit black students. 

In response, a spokesperson for Oxford said rectifying the problem would be “a long journey that requires huge, joined-up effort across society – including from leading Universities like Oxford – to address serious inequalities”

A spokesperson for Cambridge said that its admissions decisions were made on academic considerations alone, while highlighting their £5m a year spend on access measures, including work with black and minority ethnic school pupils.

Aysha Zaheer