Oxford University: 12 Colleges Take In Five Or Fewer Black Undergraduates In Three Years

While the proportion of BAME students increased to one fifth last year, the number of Black students on some courses remains extremely low.

The number of Black students attending Oxford University has increased, but figures show that in 12 of its colleges only five or fewer Black undergraduates have been recruited over three years.

The proportion of British students from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds admitted to Oxford last year increased to more than a fifth (22.1%) – up from 18.3% the previous year, statistics show.

More students with Black African or Black Caribbean heritage (3.2%) were awarded places last year – compared to 2.6% in 2018, but the number admitted to some Oxford colleges and courses remains low.

Between 2017–2019, there were five or fewer Black UK-domiciled students on 13 of Oxford’s largest courses.

Over the three years, there was one Black student admitted to biology, two for history and politics and none for geography, according to the university’s Undergraduate Admissions Report.

In 12 of Oxford’s colleges, five or fewer British Black students were recruited over the same period.

At the beginning of June, HuffPost UK revealed that the University of Oxford delayed publishing admissions data on the diversity of its students in light of “world events”.

The death of George Floyd, a handcuffed Black man who died after pleading for air as a white police officer knelt on his neck, has sparked Black Lives Matter protests around the world.

The movement has increased pressure on universities to decolonise the curriculum, tackle racism and boost diversity on campus.


Earlier this month, staff members at Oxford were notified about the delay in data in an internal email in where university heads said they “feel strongly that this is not the right time to share our data”.

This new data comes as the BBC reported public school Eton College had apologised to Nigerian writer Dillibe Onyeama for the racism he experienced while a student there in the 1960s.


Eton headmaster Simon Henderson told the broadcaster he was “appalled” at that treatment of Onyeama, adding the school had “made significant strides since” but had more to do.

At Oriel College, six Black UK students were admitted between 2017-2019.

Professor Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of Oxford University, said: “The data presented clearly demonstrates steady progress towards diversifying the make-up of our student body.”

The report also shows applying to Oxford is more competitive than ever, with 23,020 students applying for just 3,300 undergraduate places. In 2019, almost four in five places (2,586) went to UK students.

It comes as the university shares its plans to expand online resources and to run widening access programmes virtually amid the Covid-19 pandemic.


UNIQ, the university’s flagship state school access programme, will run exclusively online this year – and Target Oxbridge, the scheme which helps Black students with Oxford applications, will also go online.

Dr Samina Khan, director of undergraduate admissions and outreach at Oxford University, said: “Expanding our digital resources has been a major priority for the university in recent weeks.

“Many young people are in the process of making important decisions about their higher education future in the midst of a crisis, and I think it would be deeply unfair for talented students of all backgrounds to lose sight of their ambitions because of the education disruption caused during this time.”

Richardson added: “Notwithstanding the major challenge of adapting to the constraints posed by the pandemic we fully intend to continue our progress towards ensuring that every talented, academically driven pupil in the country, wherever they come from, sees Oxford as a place for them.”


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