OXFORD ACCUSED OF ‘BIAS’ AGAINST ETHNIC MINORITIES
- White applicants to some of the most competitive courses are twice as likely to get places
- Of British students applying, 25.7% received an offer compared to 17.2% of students from ethnic minorities
- MP David Lammy said the figures suggested an ‘institutional bias’
Oxford University was yesterday accused of ‘institutional bias’ against ethnic minorities amid striking differences in different racial groups’ entry rates.
White applicants to some of the most competitive courses are up to twice as likely to get places even with the same A-level grades, according to data released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Overall, of the white, British students applying in 2010 and 2011, 25.7 per cent received an offer to attend the university, compared to 17.2 per cent of students from ethnic minorities.
Student places: Oxford University has been accused of ‘institutional bias’ against ethnic minorities because of differences between the application success rates of racial groups
The gaps were most marked in medicine and economics and management but there was statistically no difference in success rates between white and non-white students applying for law.
Discrimination: David Tammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, said student figures suggested an ‘institutional bias’ which Oxford denies
For economics and management, 19.1 per cent of white applicants received offers, compared with 9.3 per cent for ethnic minorities. Among the most able, these success rates soared to 44.4 per cent and 29.5 per cent respectively.
David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, told The Guardian that the figures suggested ‘institutional bias’, an allegation Oxford last night denied.
An Oxford University spokeswoman said: ‘We refute any allegation of discrimination or institutional bias in strong terms and consider such allegations to be unsubstantiated and very serious.
‘Oxford University is committed to selecting the very best students, regardless of race, ethnicity or any other factor. This is not only the right thing to do but is in our own interests.
‘Differences in success rates between ethnic groups are therefore something we are continuing to examine carefully for possible explanations.
‘We do know that a tendency by students from certain ethnic groups to apply disproportionately for the most competitive subjects reduces the success rate of those ethnic groups overall.
‘However, we have never claimed this was the only factor in success rate disparities between students with similar exam grades.
‘We do not know students’ A-level grades when selecting, as they have not yet taken their exams.
Aptitude tests, GCSEs and interviews, which are used in our selection process, have not been explored in this analysis and are important in reaching reliable conclusions.’
Cambridge University was unable to give a similar breakdown of data.
Oxford University spokeswoman: ‘We do not know students’ A-level grades when selecting, as they have not yet taken their exams. Aptitude tests, GCSEs and interviews, which are used in our selection process, have not been explored in this analysis’
But data it provided from 2007-9 – before the A* at A-level was introduced – suggested that 35 per cent of white students with top A-levels gained offers to study medicine compared to 24 per cent for ethnic minority students.
A Cambridge University spokeswoman said: ‘Admissions decisions are based on students’ ability, commitment and potential to achieve.
‘Our commitment to improving access to the university is longstanding and unwavering.
‘We aim to ensure that anyone with the ability, passion and commitment to apply to Cambridge receives all the support necessary for them to best demonstrate their potential.’