Azara Blog: Oxford apparently wants more "black" applicants

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Date published: 2007/11/11

The BBC says:

A campaign to encourage more black students to apply to Oxford University is being supported by US human rights leader Rev Jesse Jackson.

Only 151 Oxford applicants last year were black, with 26 of them going on to win a place there, figures show.

The Aspire programme aims to discover why so few apply in the first place.
The success rate for the 31 Caribbean black applicants was 16% - compared with an average of 28% among the total 13,000 undergraduate applications.
The project will focus on contributing to mentoring schemes already in place and carrying out research to identify the stumbling blocks preventing youngsters from applying to university.

One student who beat the odds and made it to Oxford is 19-year-old Michael Isola, who grew up on a south-east London council estate and went through the state education system.
[ He said: ] "The biggest challenge has been the academic leap and I have felt short-changed by the state system, but there has been so much support from the college and when I have struggled and needed extra help, my tutors have been available."

Like many stories on the BBC website, this reads just like a press release from the organisation concerned. And as seems mandatory in these kinds of stories, they have to give one example, in order to provide the "human interest" angle, as if one example proves anything about the general situation. And unfortunately they only quote a very selective statistic. And indeed, almost certainly the most important factor in Oxbridge applicants, as in all similar things in life, is the socioeconomic status of the applicant. There is the question of the residual importance of race, but almost certainly that is not nearly as significant as socioeconomic status. And there are no doubt several issues underlying the socioeconomic divide. One is that rich families can (on average) provide many more opportunities in life, including a better education. And indeed, the one thing that Isola picks up on, which all the Oxbridge-hating ruling elite always fail to mention, is that this chap felt he was "short-changed by the state system". And indeed, large swathes of the state education system are mediocre at best. But of course government ministers don't want to accept any responsibility for the failed education of any of the children of the UK. Instead they blame Oxbridge for "not doing enough". But it is not up to Oxbridge to correct the screw-ups of the previous decade plus of an applicant's education. By age 18 it is too late. This problem needs fixing at age 5 to 10. The government claims they recognise this, but the fact that they still insist on bashing Oxbridge (and private schools), means they are at best disingenous and at worst not really willing to do what it takes to make education great for everyone and not just for the middle class. The opposition parties are no better. They all seem to want to bring the education of the middle class down, rather than the education of everyone else up.

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