Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free

Oxford University accused of failing to deal with admissions racism Watch

    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    10
    ReputationRep:
    "A former higher education minister has accused the University of Oxford of failing to adequately tackle racism caused by an “unconscious bias” against black and disadvantaged applicants."

    And:

    "Lammy, who was higher education minister in the last Labour government, has criticised Oxford and Cambridge’s admissions in the past. In 2010 he published data highlighting Oxbridge’s poor record in admitting black British undergraduates, and revealed that Merton College, Oxford, had not admitted a single black student for five years."

    https://www.theguardian.com/educatio...P=share_btn_fb

    Myself and my husband are both black and both did our postgrad at Oxbridge (undergrad at Imperial) over 20 years ago. So have things got worse since then for black students? Will there be "unconscious bias" against our kids should they apply to Oxford?
    Online

    20
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by mathsinsider)

    Myself and my husband are both black and both did our postgrad at Oxbridge (undergrad at Imperial) over 20 years ago. So have things got worse since then for black students? Will there be "unconscious bias" against our kids should they apply to Oxford?
    I don't think so.

    Although I am undoubtedly more middle class than when I went up to Oxford more than 30 years ago, when I go back to college, the place feels more middle class than it did when I was a student.

    What has changed is that you cannot show brilliance and potential in the old entrance examination and win yourself a place. You have to deliver outstanding results in school examinations which in turn (though to some degree this is now changing again) have rewarded conscientious diligent plodding through the teenage years rather than winging it with last minute cramming.

    That has favoured girls over boys. It has affected the number of working class white boys gaining admission. The statistics for black children with AAA at A level, let alone A*A*A*, are truly appalling. I think it would be presumptuous of me to discuss the social factors that mean that black children don't get very high A level scores and ethnic Chinese children and middle class white children do, but that is the fundamental problem.

    What Lammy, who is a SOAS and Harvard graduate, doesn't see, is the extent to which his own academic trajectory diverged not merely from the experience of black working class kids but black middle class kids so early. Lammy went to a boarding school which was an Anglican choral foundation in Peterborough, although he was from Tottenham.

    So are your children going to get to 17 with an Oxbridge academic profile and the desire to go to Oxbridge (and I suspect Lammy fell down on the last of these as I assume he isn't an Oxbridge reject)?
    • Very Important Poster
    • PS Reviewer
    • Clearing and Applications Advisor
    Offline

    21
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by mathsinsider)
    "A former higher education minister has accused the University of Oxford of failing to adequately tackle racism caused by an “unconscious bias” against black and disadvantaged applicants."

    And:

    "Lammy, who was higher education minister in the last Labour government, has criticised Oxford and Cambridge’s admissions in the past. In 2010 he published data highlighting Oxbridge’s poor record in admitting black British undergraduates, and revealed that Merton College, Oxford, had not admitted a single black student for five years."

    https://www.theguardian.com/educatio...P=share_btn_fb

    Myself and my husband are both black and both did our postgrad at Oxbridge (undergrad at Imperial) over 20 years ago. So have things got worse since then for black students? Will there be "unconscious bias" against our kids should they apply to Oxford?
    Given https://www.ucas.com/file/64871/download?token=5MqwpblP (page 10) Oxford have significantly improved their treatment of Black applicants since 2010.
    Name:  OxfordBMEoffers.PNG
Views: 78
Size:  56.9 KB
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    There's nothing racist about it at all, they're just taking the best applicants.
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    I'm not sure the fault is with Oxford, but society. I think black people in general are less likely to get Oxford level grades because of the low socio-economic areas they're brought up in, so the schools they attend aren't good. I think Oxford, and possibly all high-achieving unis, needs to put in some kind of leniency on grades for deprived areas... look at other things. These people aren't less intelligent or less hard working. They just have the odds against them.

    And before people say "Oxford shouldn't lower its standards and let less intelligent people in "... I know some really not so clever people who got really great A-Level grades because their parents paid for their education... and I know people who are really smart but were just never really given the opportunity to shine due to their upbringing and area... but left uni with 1st class degrees. That's obviously just circumstantial evidence but all I mean is that A-level grades aren't always a measure of how smart you are and how well you can do at uni.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Len Goodman)
    There's nothing racist about it at all, they're just taking the best applicants.
    Oh dear Kass, I dont think you read the bit where it says "unconscious bias"!
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    As others have said, the main problem is systematic, long term disadvantage rather than simply falling at the final hurdle of the offer.

    Having said that, the Oxford "flagging"/contextual data system still fails adequately to compensate for this differential. A recent review here confirms this (and, incidentally, offers evidence that "flagged" students, once admitted, tend to do better than average).

    I don't think there is any evidence that things have got worse for Black applicants. For my money, the most significant factor in "unconscious" discrimination against candidates is that "The Establishment" still fails to appreciate the full impact of childhood adversity on formal attainment. As someone who has worked with children "in care" for years, I would argue that many of them with just a single A level have greater resourcefulness and potential than many A*A*A* Oxbridge entrants.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    Oxford selects pupils based on merit. Don't try to make it based on gender or race or anything but the fact that you're application wasn't competitive enough. They look at your UMS marks, you can't buy an A*A*A, you work for it.
    Why do black people want to be oppressed so bad?
    Online

    20
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by OxFossil)
    As others have said, the main problem is systematic, long term disadvantage rather than simply falling at the final hurdle of the offer.

    Having said that, the Oxford "flagging"/contextual data system still fails adequately to compensate for this differential. A recent review here confirms this (and, incidentally, offers evidence that "flagged" students, once admitted, tend to do better than average).

    I don't think there is any evidence that things have got worse for Black applicants. For my money, the most significant factor in "unconscious" discrimination against candidates is that "The Establishment" still fails to appreciate the full impact of childhood adversity on formal attainment. As someone who has worked with children "in care" for years, I would argue that many of them with just a single A level have greater resourcefulness and potential than many A*A*A* Oxbridge entrants.
    A significant problem is that there is very little "give" in the Oxbridge system. Whilst the two universities have significantly expanded their post-grad offer in the last 40 years the numbers of undergraduates remains virtually identical. The number of courses has increased significantly and so the number of students on many courses has fallen. Oxbridge has become more accessible to overseas applicants and unlike at other universities overseas places are not supernumerary to home ones.

    That greater intensity of competition from students with near perfect academic records makes it harder to give contextual offers.

    Almost all academics consider that students are less well prepared to start Oxbridge courses than they were in the past. That is certainly not for the want of effort. Everyone agrees that teenagers put more time into their studies than in the past. Contextual flags highlight where performance may not reflect aptitude, but flair cannot replace missing initial knowledge.

    I do wonder whether Oxbridge should get involved in the Vith form business, perhaps offering long summer schools (rather than merely taster courses to persuade then to apply) to disadvantaged students between lower and upper sixths with first class teachers.
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    A significant problem is that there is very little "give" in the Oxbridge system. Whilst the two universities have significantly expanded their post-grad offer in the last 40 years the numbers of undergraduates remains virtually identical. The number of courses has increased significantly and so the number of students on many courses has fallen. Oxbridge has become more accessible to overseas applicants and unlike at other universities overseas places are not supernumerary to home ones.

    That greater intensity of competition from students with near perfect academic records makes it harder to give contextual offers.

    Almost all academics consider that students are less well prepared to start Oxbridge courses than they were in the past. That is certainly not for the want of effort. Everyone agrees that teenagers put more time into their studies than in the past. Contextual flags highlight where performance may not reflect aptitude, but flair cannot replace missing initial knowledge.

    I do wonder whether Oxbridge should get involved in the Vith form business, perhaps offering long summer schools (rather than merely taster courses to persuade then to apply) to disadvantaged students between lower and upper sixths with first class teachers.
    Those are good points, and ones that I used to worry over when I worked at another RG uni. Generally, of course, there will always be a tension between the need to produce a cadre of academically excellent graduates on the one hand and avoiding perpetuating a narrow elite with privileged access to power on the other.

    For me, at the moment, the balance remains weighted against students from groups which are structurally chronically disadvantaged. And since employers of large numbers of Oxford graduates still cite more generic skills like "problem solving, leadership and communication" (to quote the University's own website) as their main advantage in terms of employability - rather than specialised technical expertise, I would be quite bullish in pushing Oxford to increase its inclusiveness.

    More assertive outreach into 6th forms of the sort you suggest might help. There should also be much heavier weighting for "flag" issues. But overall, it's obviously a job that is well beyond the capacity of Oxford to do on its own.
 
 
 
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • Poll
    Did TEF Bronze Award affect your UCAS choices?
    Useful resources
    Uni match

    Applying to uni?

    Our tool will help you find the perfect course

    Articles:

    Debate and current affairs guidelinesDebate and current affairs wiki

    Quick link:

    Educational debate unanswered threads

    Groups associated with this forum:

    View associated groups
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

    Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

    Quick reply
    Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.