Current Affairs

Oxford University delays publishing diversity data

Oxford University has delayed publishing diversity breakdowns of admissions data because of ‘world events’, HuffPost UK has revealed.

In an email, circulated internally to staff on Wednesday afternoon, university leadership said that they “feel strongly that this is not the right time to share our data”.

The data, which is released each year after the admissions cycle, breaks down the diversity of student intake by ethnicity, age, gender, disability, economic background, school type, and geography.

The email reads: “After careful consideration of the current world events and also learning that Cambridge will not be publishing its admissions data until late June, the decision to postpone the release of the annual admissions statistical report has been taken.”

“The delay also allows us more time to work on announcing our commitment to outreach through our digital outreach programmes, which are being delivered despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and particularly the closure of schools since March 2020.”

In 2019, Oxford announced that 22% of undergraduate students starting in 2019 were Britons from BAME backgrounds – an increase from 18% on the previous year. The overall proportion of Black students admitted increased from 2.6% in 2018 to 3.1% in 2019.

This decision comes after widespread outrage over recent racism accusations at Christ Church JCR hustings, where a candidate in election compared Black Lives Matter to flour shortages in the USA.

The University has been rocked by several recent racism scandals, including yesterday’s collapse of an Oxford Union slate after messages from a candidate used the murder of George Floyd to further her campaign for election. Earlier this year, the University was forced to apologise for other behaviour within the Oxford Union after 25-year-old Ebenezer Azamati, a blind black student, was forcibly ejected and allegedly “dragged by his feet” from a Thursday night debate. 

In 2018, Stormzy revealed that Oxford had rejected his offer to fund scholarships for black students, and instead decided to take his offer to Cambridge.

The University released a statement earlier this week on its official Twitter account, which read “We’re committed to supporting our community in opposing racism in all its forms, including upholding anti-racist values.”

Oxford University have released this statement on the postponement:

‘The University of Oxford was scheduled to publish its annual Undergraduate Admissions Report this week. However, as world events have escalated over the last ten days, it became obvious that now was not the time to share this content. In fact, some headline admissions figures have already been published, in January this year, and revealed that the University is now attracting more ethnic minority students, including Black students, than ever. Having already shared this core information, it felt deeply inappropriate to publish content that could distract from the important challenges and debate facing our society at this time and try to draw attention to our own progress on the figures. The report will therefore appear later this month.

‘Oxford abhors racism and discrimination of any description and protecting the wellbeing of our Black and ethnic minority student and staff community is a University priority. Recent events have shone a light on imperfections everywhere, including at Oxford, and we are working hard to build towards a truly diverse community. Our admissions figures are an important indicator of our progress, but we also need to guarantee an inclusive and respectful learning environment for all.’.

Lois Heslop

Lois Heslop is the co-founder of The Oxford Blue and was Editor-in-Chief for HT20 and TT20. She is in her second year studying Physics at Lady Margaret Hall, and hails from South London. Her other interests include classical music and opera, and she is currently a choral scholar.