Is Oxbridge still a rich white student's world?

27 October 2017
What was claimed

The number of poor and non-white students at Oxford and Cambridge is decreasing.

Our verdict

The proportion of Oxbridge students from a BME background has increased. The proportion from disadvantaged areas is low - with different trends from Oxford and Cambridge.

“We got the figures the other day, decreasing numbers of poor and non-white students at Oxford and Cambridge”

David Dimbleby, 26 October 2017

The proportion of students from a BME background getting a place at Oxford and Cambridge has been increasing for the last few years. But the proportion of undergraduates at Cambridge from disadvantaged areas has fallen in recent years, while the proportion at Oxford has increased slightly.

The measure of disadvantage here is called the ‘POLAR3’ method, which measures a young person’s likelihood of progressing into higher education based upon where they live.

The proportion of Oxford’s placed applicants from ethnic minority backgrounds increased from 12% in 2010 to 16% in 2016, while at Cambridge the proportion increased from 16% to 21%, according to data from UCAS.  For black students specifically, the proportions are much lower - 1.3% up from 0.7% at Oxford and 1.5% up from 0.5% at Cambridge.

HESA data on the percentage of students from low participation neighbourhoods, shows a small decrease for Cambridge from 3.6% in 2013-14 to 3.1% in 2015/16, while Oxford increased from 2.1% to 3.3%.

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