Oxford University has apologised to David Lammy for retweeting a message posted by a student calling him “bang out of order” and “bitter” for criticising it over diversity figures.
The Labour MP called the university out on Wednesday as being a “bastion of entrenched, wealthy upper class white privilege” after admission figures showed white British applicants were twice as likely to be admitted to undergraduate courses as their black British peers.
Shortly after Lammy was interviewed about the figures on BBC’s Today programme, the university retweeted a post from Oxford student Liam Beadle saying Lammy was “bitter”.
Comments under the retweet questioned why the university was endorsing the remark.
Oxford University did not offer an explanation for the retweet when contacted by HuffPost yesterday, but have since apologised to Lammy.
Ceri Thomas, director of public affairs at Oxford, tweeted an apology to Lammy and took responsibility for the retweet. Oxford University then retweeted the post.
Thomas, who used to be an editor on the Today programme where Lammy was interviewed, said the MP’s comments showed “no sign of bitterness” and agreed that work needed to be done to improve diversity.
Oxford’s Corpus Christi College was the worst performer between 2015 and 2017, admitting just one black British student, according to the admissions figures.
Its most prestigious colleges, including Balliol and University and Magdalen, only admitted two black British students as undergraduates during the same period.
The university said it “recognised the report shows it needs to make more progress” and announced it was adding 500 more places to its spring and summer school programme, Uniq, for students from under-represented backgrounds.
Samina Khan, the university’s head of admissions and outreach, defended the figures on the BBC’s Today programme saying Oxford simply wasn’t getting enough applications from the right candidates.