David Lammy slams Oxford for 'social apartheid' after ethnicity data findings


10 out of 32 Oxford colleges failed to admit any black British pupil with A-levels in 2015

In a shocking finding from an ethnicity data, it has emerged that one in three Oxford colleges had failed to admit a single black British A-level student in 2015. The university, along with Cambridge is now facing accusations of “social apartheid” by the former education minister David Lammy.

The data had been requested by Lammy, the former Labour minister for higher education, and has been published by the Guardian today.

The report also showed that 10 out of 32 Oxford colleges failed to admit any black British pupil with A-levels in 2015. Similar data released by Cambridge revealed that six colleges there failed to admit any black British A-level students in the same year.

Lammy said the figures showed that many colleges at both, Oxford and Cambridge, failed to reflect the UK’s population, and called into question the universities’ claims to national standing. “This is social apartheid and it is utterly unrepresentative of life in modern Britain,” he said.

Lammy had first requested the ethnicity data from Oxford and Cambridge in 2016. While Cambridge had provided it immediately, Oxford finally released it yesterday.

The data also shows a “shocking” regional bias, with more offers made to Home Counties pupils than the whole of northern England. The data show that some parts of the country, especially disadvantaged regions of Wales and the north-west of England, have largely missed out on efforts by the two universities to widen their admissions base and admit students from outside the south of England.

In response, a spokesperson for Oxford told the Guardian that rectifying the probem would be “a long journey that requires huge, joined-up effort across society – including from leading universities like Oxford – to address serious inequalities”.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Cambridge said that its admissions decisions were made on academic considerations alone, while spending £5m a year on access measures including work with black and minority ethnic school pupils.”The greatest barrier to participation at selective universities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds is low attainment at school. We assess the achievements of these students in their full context to ensure that students with great academic potential are identified,” the spokesperson added.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme today, Lammy added: “I just don’t think the universities fully understand what they’re doing. Oxford spent £10m on this and what we’ve seen over the last decade… is we’ve gone backwards on social class, we’ve made no progress on north/south divide and we’ve made little progress on race.”