Cambridge University says it cannot do more to admit black British students 'on its own'

Six of Cambridge’s colleges admitted fewer than 10 British black or mixed white and black students over five-year period

The University of Cambridge has called on schools and parents to help them boost student diversity
The University of Cambridge has called on schools and parents to help them boost student diversity

The University of Cambridge has said it needs support from schools and parents to boost diversity after data showed some of its colleges admitted no black British students over five years.

Six of Cambridge’s 29 undergraduate colleges admitted fewer than 10 British black or mixed white and black students between 2012 and 2016, a freedom of information (FoI) request by the Financial Times revealed.

St Edmund’s College failed to make any offers to more than 30 black applicants over the period, meanwhile Hughes Hall received 74 applications and only made between five and seven offers.

Downing College made between eight and 12 offers after receiving 95 applications over the period, although it made no offers between 2014 and 2015.

Cambridge has said that it is undertaking a “significant bit of outreach”, but added: “Ultimately the university isn’t going to be able to bring about this change on its own. We need the support of schools and parents too.”

The University of Cambridge told the Financial Times: “More needs to be done to prepare high-achieving black students for applications to Cambridge and Oxford, which is why we have significantly increased the funding we contribute to programmes like Target Oxbridge.“

Last month, the University of Oxford said it needed to do more to improve diversity after figures revealed more than a third of its colleges admitted three or fewer black applicants over three years.

The proportion of black UK students admitted to Oxford last year was less than 2 per cent – and more than a quarter of colleges failed to admit a single black British student in some years between 2015 and 2017, a report from the university showed.

The data was released after more than 100 MPs wrote to Oxford and Cambridge urging them to take action to recruit more students.

The letter was sent last year after FoI requests by Labour MP David Lammy revealed 13 Oxford colleges had failed to make a single offer to black A-level applicants over a six-year period.

A University for Cambridge spokesperson told The Independent: “Statistics published two weeks ago show 22 per cent of UK undergraduates admitted as part of the 2017 admissions cycle identify themselves as having a black or ethnic minority background. This is a record high.

“The total number of students specifically describing themselves as being black admitted in the same year was also at a record high.

“While progress is being made, we recognise more needs to be done which is why we have significantly increased the funding we contribute to programmes like Target Oxbridge, which helps to prepare high-achiev​ing black students for applications to Cambridge and Oxford.”

The university added that Hughes Hall and St Edmund’s colleges admit mostly postgraduates and a few mature undergraduates.

In 2017, St Edmund’s accepted only seven home undergraduates from schools or colleges and Hughes Hall only accepted 10.

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