“Oxford and Cambridge Universities are being accused of a form of “social apartheid”. More than 80% of their offers go to “the top two social classes, the children of barristers, doctors and CEOs”, many of them privately educated pupils from the south-east. In 2015, one in five colleges at Cambridge and one in three at Oxford failed to admit a single black A-level student. Yet, confronted with these figures, Oxbridge has blamed everyone but themselves.
“Former Cambridge admissions officer Andrew Tettenborn strongly disagrees. Most college fellows today are people who haven’t gone to private schools: a big majority are on the Left and “plagued by the usual middle-class guilt complex”. You need only look at how many students of Indian, Pakistani or Chinese origin get places there to see there is no discrimination against minorities. The truth is that only a few hundred black Britons scored the requisite three As or above, and even fewer were attracted to apply.
“It’s not as if the Government hasn’t made a concerted effort to level the field, said The Times. If a university wants to raise annual tuition fees above £6,165, it has to sign an agreement showing how it plans to recruit more disadvantaged pupils. Last year, universities spent £725m on school visits, summer programmes and bursaries in an effort to do just that.
The fact remains that Oxford and Cambridge, compared with Harvard or other top US universities, is still astonishingly white, said Priyamvada Gopal in The Observer. But the fault doesn’t just lie with them: it lies in Britain’s education system, in the unequal contest between its pampered independent schools and its woefully underfunded state ones that struggle to attract good teachers.
“Equally deleterious, said Clare Foges in The Times, is the bias that occurs after university. Such is the romantic hold that Oxford and its dreaming spires exert on the national imagination, recruiters to the top jobs lazily assume the mere fact of having gone there makes you special. Instead of trying “to break more people into Oxbridge”, we should be “breaking the Oxbridge stranglehold on the best opportunities”.
I will comment on this collection ofobservations tomorrow. To do so here would make the post far too long.