Oxbridge admissions defended by youth mentor

A youth mentor has defended Oxbridge against charges of racial bias in admissions, earning a standing ovation at the Conservative Party conference.

October 2, 2013

Kings College, University of Cambridge

Lindsay Johns, a writer and broadcaster who is part of a youth mentoring scheme in Peckham, south-east London, spoke in a session on education at the conference in Manchester yesterday, where he was introduced by Michael Gove, the education secretary.

In a wide-ranging defence of “academic rigour”, Mr Johns attacked the use of street slang by young people as well as saying that when it came to school education “Hamlet doesn’t need a hip-hop sound track for young people to enjoy it”.

He said it was “viciously racist to think that black and brown kids in the inner cities will only ‘get Shakespeare’ if it’s set to a hip-hop beat”.

The University of Oxford graduate said his mentoring scheme runs visits for young people to his alma mater and the University of Cambridge, and suggested that understanding of “elocution” and “deportment” could help young people gain access to university.

Following a report by The Guardian earlier this year that white applicants were twice as likely to gain a place at Oxford as others, even if they had the same A-level grades, Mr Johns took aim at “bien-pensant liberals”.

“Can you please stop telling us how institutionally racist and innately prejudiced Oxford and Cambridge are. And in so doing, actually putting off ferociously bright black, brown and white working-class kids from applying,” he said, bringing applause from delegates.

He added: “Maybe, just maybe, if you didn’t keep on discouraging them from applying in the first place with your duplicitous horror stories of how terrible life is there then levels of representation would actually get better.”

Continuing his criticism of “bien-pensant liberals”, he said: “Personally, I find your rank hypocrisy both astounding and morally repugnant as you practically all went to Oxford yourselves and made sure you benefited from the wonderful education on offer there.

“Can’t you see that it’s precisely because you went to Oxbridge that you now have the platforms to say such things? So how dare you put off my bright kids from applying by saying they wouldn’t be welcome there.”


You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham