Oxbridge admissions statistics show four in five students are white

Well over four fifths of students admitted to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge last year were white, statistics show.

December 19, 2011

Earlier this year Prime Minister David Cameron, himself an alumnus of Oxford, described the low number of ethnic minority students at Oxbridge as “disgraceful”.

The comments angered Oxford, which responded that Mr Cameron’s claim that only one black student had been admitted in 2009 was “incorrect and highly misleading”.

The university said that at least 26 black British undergraduates started that year.

The latest data, which relate to the academic year 2010-11, show that the percentage of applications from white students to study at Oxford and Cambridge were 82.4 and 78.1 per cent respectively.

However the acceptance rates for white students were higher than the proportion of applications; 87.8 per cent of acceptances at Oxford and 84.6 per cent of acceptances at Cambridge were for white applicants.

Despite a fall in the number of black students admitted at Cambridge – from 25 to 16 between the academic years 2009-10 and 2010-11 – the proportion of non-white students accepted by the institution has risen slightly from 14.5 per cent to 15.4 per cent.

Oxford also admitted fewer black students – the number fell from to 20 – however the biggest fall in acceptances came for Chinese students.

Oxford admitted 49 Chinese students in 2009-10, compared to last year.

The total percentage of non-white students accepted at Oxford also fell slightly from 12.7 per cent to 12.2 per cent.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the incoming head of Ofsted, told The Sunday Times that schools should be doing more to support ethnic minority students.

He said: “The statistics clearly show that [state] schools aren't doing enough to encourage black and ethnic minority students to apply to the top universities.”

Oxford said that it had accepted 32 black students in its 2011 intake, and added that subject choice played a factor in the acceptance rate for 2010-11; 43 per cent of all applicants from an ethnic minority background applied to one of the three most oversubscribed courses at the institution.

A spokeswoman said that the numbers needed to be looked at “in their proper context”.

“We want talented black students to know they are welcome at Oxford, and that although we are not as ethnically diverse as some universities, this is not such an overwhelmingly white community as has been painted.”

Cambridge meanwhile, highlighted the long-term trend at the institution; it said that 15 per cent of students currently studying at the university were from an ethnic minority – up from just 5 per cent in 1989.

sarah.cunnane@tsleducation.com

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