One in five undergraduates accepted at the University of Oxford in 2019 were from BAME backgrounds, falling in line with the university’s claim that they aim to make “steady progress towards a more inclusive student body”.
This came as a result of widespread criticism from policymakers and MPs across the country, as it was revealed that the proportion of BAME students admitted to a number of the university’s elite colleges remained low.
It has been revealed that 12 Oxford colleges admitted five or fewer black undergraduates between 2017 and 2019.
Criticism of these statistics encouraged the university’s decision to spend the last five years overhauling its application system in addition to creating a larger number of outreach schemes, with the aim being to diversify its student body.
Such progress can be seen through figures revealing an increase in the proportion of British students from BAME households attending the prestigious university, steadily rising from 14.5% in 2015 to 22.1% in 2020. These increases have been accredited to schemes such as Target Oxbridge, which aid black British students with their applications to the country’s most famed universities.
Every talented, academically driven pupil in the country, wherever they come from, [should] see Oxford as a place for them
– Professor Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford
Professor Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, affirmed the university’s goals to ensure “every talented, academically driven pupil in the country, wherever they come from, sees Oxford as a place for them”.
The University of Oxford has recently come under fire for its handling of racist incidents on campus. Some BAME students have described their unpleasant experiences at the university, and there has also been controversy over a statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College.
However, it is not simply BAME students that are currently underrepresented at Oxford, but also state school students. 62.3% of Oxford’s student body was made up of state school students in 2019 as opposed to 55.6% in 2014. Privately-educated undergraduates remain over-represented.
While public school students make up 7% of the student population, they make up nearly half of Oxford’s student body.