Oxford university accused of institutional bias against ethnic minorities

 

Oxford University has been accused of 'institutional bias' following figures obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request by the Guardian.

The report showed that, on average, white applicants are up to twice as likely to be offered a place as their ethnic minority equivalent, despite having earned the same grades at A-level. Applications to the university in 2010 and 2011 revealed that 25.7 per cent of white applicants received an offer for a place at the university, compared to only 17.2 per cent of students from ethnic minorities.

Oxford University has excused previous claims stating that ethnic minority applicants are more likely to apply for competitive courses, such as medicine. However the figures reveal that, while medicine is a highly sought after and prestigious course, white applicants were twice as likely to gain a place over ethnic minority candidates even when the same triple A* grades had been achieved.

The figures also revealed no 'statiscally significant difference' for the course of law between white and ethnic minority students. However, for their economics and management course-the university’s most competitive-19.1 per cent of white applicants received offers, compared with 9.3 per cent for those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Previous data obtained by David Lammy MP made the headlines in 2010 when it was revealed that just one British black Caribbean undergraduate was admitted to Oxford in 2009. Oxford’s explanation of this was "due to the prevalence of black and minority ethnic (BME) candidates applying to the most competitive courses," Lammy said.

“This new evidence blows that apart. We now know BME students get fewer offers even with the same grades. Where there are interviews and quite large hurdles at the application stage, as with Oxbridge, it is for the universities to demonstrate there is not institutional bias. There figures suggest institutional bias, and certainly show sustained institutional failure.”

An Oxford university spokeswoman said: “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 it 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.”

Vice-president of higher education at the National Union of Students, Rachel Wenstone, said: “My initial response to these figures was shock-this is quite frightening, and the university needs to deal with it immediately.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Drama Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Liverpool: We are looking for someone who can t...

Science Teacher

£110 - £135 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Sc...

Teacher

£120 - £131 per day: Randstad Education Group: The role will involve teaching...

Drama & Media Studies Teacher

£110 - £135 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Dr...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice