The University of Oxford has delayed the publication of its yearly diversity admissions data in light of “world events”.
This comes amid anti-racism protests in the US and around the world, following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. A Black Lives Matter protest also took place in Oxford.
According to an internal staff email, seen by the Huffington Post, the university explained that they “feel strongly that this is not the right time to share our data”.
The email said: “After careful consideration of the current world events and also learning that Cambridge will not be publishing its admissions data until late June, the decision to postpone the release of the annual admissions statistical report has been taken.”
It also highlighted that the university would be using the additional time to work on their digital outreach programme.
However, the University of Cambridge has released a contradictory statement, quoted in Varsity, claiming that “no decision” has yet been made on the publication date of its admissions data.
The University of Oxford was scheduled to publish its annual Undergraduate Admissions Report this week. However, as world events have escalated over the last ten days, it became obvious that now was not the time to share this content
– University of Oxford
Detailed data on the diversity of each year’s intake is usually released in May or June in a joint publication from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The data includes information on ethnicity, gender, disability, educational background and age.
The publication aims to inform outreach work to “build a more inclusive and representative Oxford”.
The 2018 report revealed that 18.3% of Oxford entrants identified as BAME, proportionate to the numbers in the wider population aged 18-25, and the highest proportion ever. However, 2.6% identified as Black, compared to an estimated 4.4% of the population.
The university has released a statement explaining its decision to delay the release.
It said: “The University of Oxford was scheduled to publish its annual Undergraduate Admissions Report this week. However, as world events have escalated over the last ten days, it became obvious that now was not the time to share this content.
“In fact, some headline admissions figures have already been published, in January this year, and revealed that the University is now attracting more ethnic minority students, including Black students, than ever.
“Having already shared this core information, it felt deeply inappropriate to publish content that could distract from the important challenges and debate facing our society at this time and try to draw attention to our own progress on the figures. The report will therefore appear later this month.”
Oxford University specifically has deep issues of racial inequality, from access to attainment to racial profiling
– University of Oxford Students’ Union
The statement continued: “Oxford abhors racism and discrimination of any description and protecting the wellbeing of our Black and ethnic minority student and staff community is a University priority.
“Recent events have shone a light on imperfections everywhere, including at Oxford, and we are working hard to build towards a truly diverse community. Our admissions figures are an important indicator of our progress, but we also need to guarantee an inclusive and respectful learning environment for all.”
The university has also come under fire for its response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The university said in a tweet: “We’re committed to supporting our community in opposing racism in all its forms, including upholding anti-racist values”.
Twitter users highlighted several race-based controversies surrounding Oxford in recent years, including its decision to keep a statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes.
In 2017, it was accused of ‘social apartheid’ by Labour MP David Lammy, after it was revealed that 13 colleges failed to make a single offer to a black student over a six-year period, and that white students were twice as likely to be made an offer as black applicants.
Oxford Students’ Union released a statement calling for the university to do more to tackle anti-Black racism, claiming that “Oxford University specifically has deep issues of racial inequality, from access to attainment to racial profiling”.