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David Cameron is plain wrong about Oxford and race. Here’s why

31 January 2016

10:55 AM

31 January 2016

10:55 AM

I applaud the Prime Minister for pointing out the scandalous lack of black students at Britain’s top universities, but he’s wrong about whose fault it is – at least when it comes to Oxford, his alma mater. Yes, it’s true that Oxford only admitted five black British Caribbean applicants in 2013, a disgracefully low number, as David Cameron points out, but there’s no evidence to suggest that the cause is ‘ingrained, institutional and insidious’ attitudes, i.e. racism, on the part of Oxford’s admission authorities.

How do I know this? Because Oxford already publishes a wealth of data about admissions – the new law Cameron is drafting to force universities to publish their data about the gender and ethnic and social background origins of students who apply for places will merely force other universities to catch up with Oxford in this regard. You can see Oxford’s data on undergraduate admissions in 2013 here.

This is quite a chunky document, but if you scroll to page 28 you can see the table showing the number of black British Caribbean students admitted in 2013. A glance at the left-hand side of the table reveals the reason for this – not racism on Oxford’s part, but the fact that only 35 black British Caribbean students applied in 2013. That’s 35 out of a total of 11,556 undergraduate applicants. Even if every single black British Caribbean applicant was admitted in 2013, they’d still only make up 1.32 per cent of the total.

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Another thing these data reveal is that, overall, Oxford’s track record of admitting BME (black and minority ethnic) students is good. At the top of p.28, it says that 24 per cent of all Oxford undergraduates in 2013 were BME. Admittedly, a lot of those are from overseas, but British BME students still make up 13 per cent of the total. Maybe the Prime Minister is right and that figure should be higher – the average at Russell Group universities is around 18 per cent – bit it exactly reflects the percentage of the British population that’s non-white – 13 per cent, according to the 2011 census. 

True, the success rate for black British Caribbean applicants is below average – 14.3 per cent in 2013, compared to 22.9 per cent. But the reason for that isn’t because the attitude of the Oxford admission authorities is ‘ingrained, institutional and insidious’, but because black British Caribbean students are more likely to apply for the most over-subscribed subjects – Economics and Management, Medicine, PPE, Law and Maths. For instance, only 11.5 per cent of students who apply to do Law as undergraduates are accepted. 

No, the reason Oxford admits so few black British Caribbean students is because so few apply. Why is that? A combination of factors are to blame here and the fact that Oxford is continually accused of racism – falsely – certainly doesn’t help, as Lindsay Johns pointed out in a recent piece for Spectator Life. Lindsay is an Oxford graduate of mixed race and works with disadvantaged young people, encouraging them to follow in his footsteps. He wrote:

‘I know from my own experience that these baseless accusations of “racism” are very off-putting to young people of colour. As an undergraduate, I worked with the Oxford Access Scheme to encourage applicants from “non-traditional backgrounds” and for the last decade I’ve volunteered as a youth mentor with Leaders of Tomorrow, a charity in Peckham that works with inner-city kids, encouraging them to apply to universities like Oxford.

‘A good deal of my work, then and now, involves convincing sceptical young black students that Oxford isn’t racist and they won’t be discriminated against in the admissions process.’ 

Nor is it because the university isn’t doing enough to encourage black students to apply. The university spent £5.6 million on outreach work in 2014 and a further £7 million on financial support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The biggest reason so few apply is because so few British black Caribbean students get three As or A*s at A-level, which in the vast majority of cases is the eligibility requirement for a place at Oxford. In 2012, only 3.5 per cent of A-level students from black backgrounds achieved three A*-A grades, a third of the level of white students. The way to address that is not to lecture Oxford – or Cambridge or the Russell Group universities – about being more “inclusive”, but to improve our state education system. The London Academy of Excellence, a free school in Newham, is showing the way, having secured eight Oxbridge offers for its students this year. All of them are from BME backgrounds.

As I say, the Prime Minister is right to highlight this issue. The fact that a young black man in Britain is more likely to go to prison that a top university does indeed shame our nation. But Oxford is not to blame.

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Show comments
  • Bonkim

    Agree wholeheartedly.

  • http://theunrecordedman.wordpress.com/ TheUnrecordedMan

    Why aren’t there more aborigines, Kalahari bushmen, pygmys or Yaghan people of Tierra del Fuego at our top universities? It’s an absolute scandal.

    • Bonkim

      Outreach has not reached them – that is why. Try harder.

  • ohforheavensake

    Just saw you on Channel 4 News, Toby.

    You are such an idiot. Frankly, it’s embarrassing.

  • Christopher Lennon

    It’s not a scandal; it’s a fact and to change it will require attention from pre-school onwards and with parents buying-in, not quotas, or selection.

  • David Stirling

    I’m sure it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the average IQ of blacks in Western countries is 10-15 points below that of the white average.

    • pobjoy

      Then it’s probably a few points higher than that of the typical poster to Spectator blogs.

      • Count Spencer

        You should be able to take on his arguments with facts and logic, instead of insult.
        Ask yourself why you can’t ?

        • pobjoy

          Insult? You should read more of the posts here.

          Ask yourself why you can’t ?

          Just use a little common sense. If the poster had written that the average IQ of black people in Western countries is 10-15 points below that of the average person in the same socio-economic grouping, it might be worth attention. But, as it is, it isn’t. Especially as, if you get sick sudenly, you are more likely to be seen by a dark-skinned doctor than a paleface.

          Perhaps you now see why there is no insult. Just sad fact.

          • George

            But why are so many blacks in low socio-economic groupings? After all, they have been living in the West for several generations.

            As for the dark-skinned doctors, they are the result of a dysfunctional social health system that pays way below the market rate for doctors, many of whom do not speak English.

            • Cyril Sneer

              You will note how they have completely vanished when difficult questions are posed to them.

            • pobjoy

              why are so many blacks in low socio-economic groupings?

              … in Europe. Because skin colour is a quick identifier of social class in a society historically dominated by one colour, and the dominant culture disguises its class bias by reference to black people rather than working class people. This also has served to divide the working class against itself.

              Also, because cultural norms persist in migrant communities, and these usually have to be abandoned for individuals who seek to be accepted in a majority culture. The fact that they are accepted by that majority when they adapt shows that race is not actually a genuine barrier to social advancement. Neither can it be said that competence is lacking, because social advancement has never been a great deal to do with ability to do a useful job, and this became even more true in Britain in 1979.

              dark-skinned doctors

              … who are medically qualified, therefore highly competent people, and quite often pioneers in medicine. The fact that some are now employed by the NHS in less than ideal conditions is the consequence of failure of capitalism and the economic conditions of doctors who have trained despite disadvantageous conditions outside Europe..

              • George

                You use the terms “class bias” and “dominant culture disguises” in a Marxian conspiratorial sense.

                Skin colour is not necessarily a class identifier, and even if it were it wouldn’t explain anything. You too, judging by what you say, also identify social class by skin colour, but you draw the opposite moral conclusion from the “dominant white” community.

                And yes, we British are a white people. We are (still) the “dominant” group in this country. So what? No apologies there. South Africa and Zimbabwe are dominant black societies. Are you saying the white communities in those countries suffer discrimination as minorities? And if not, why not?

                The problem we have in Britain and the West generally is how to live up to our ideal of equal opportunity for all. But you don’t accept that. Like all Marxists, you believe that “capitalist society” is responsible for all of society’s ills, and come the revolution there will be no social distinctions. Everyone, presumably, would go to Oxford and everyone would be equally good at maths and Latin and rap.

                Good luck with that.

                Marixism, the greatest secular Utopian nonsense, is still, it seems, alive and kicking in some poor souls.

                • pobjoy

                  You use the terms “class bias” and “dominant culture disguises” in a Marxian conspiratorial sense.

                  You really do deserve an axe through the neck. Or taking into care. You know that capitalists have recognised the terms ‘class bias’ in academic reports that they have commissioned. And with “dominant culture disguises” you can’t even distinguish a term from a sentence. You’re illiterate, or unfit for further air supply. Even the most dedicated capitalist recognises the existence of dominant cultures. Like your thicko pal Adolf. And where did he end up?

                  In any case, as you well know, indolent thugs were exploiting cheap labour for millennia before Marx. As you’ve never done a day’s work in your life, that fact makes your indolent legs wet. Now grunt, as befits your species.

                  Skin colour is not necessarily a class identifier

                  As I wrote. At least you can manage copying!

                  Yet you did not rush to correct the view of ‘blacks and their vibrant culture of stabbing one another, abandoning their children and living off of benefits are to this country’. No, that was identification after your own heart. Or was it belly.

          • Cyril Sneer

            Flagged for racist remark.

          • David Stirling

            Actually, differences in socio-economic circumstances do not account for the IQ difference. For instance, black and mixed-race children raised in the same backgrounds as white children (adopted by white families) end up showing the same IQ distribution ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6872626). Furthermore IQ in general is highly heritable which suggests that the gap cannot be entirely explained by circumstances (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritability_of_IQ).

            Also black children perform worse than white children in Standardized testing at every income level (http://www.jbhe.com/latest/news/1-22-09/satracialgapfigure.gif)

            • pobjoy

              Three out of three blank sites!

              • David Stirling

                Sorry, I messed up the links since they added the brackets at the end for some reason. Here they are for you;

                http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6872626

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritability_of_IQ

                http://www.jbhe.com/latest/news/1-22-09/satracialgapfigure.gif

                • pobjoy

                  ‘Black and interracial children scored as well on IQ tests as adoptees in other studies.’

                • David Stirling

                  Black and mixed race children don’t do as well as whites if you look at the actual IQ test scores though; At 17, adopted white children had a score of 106 whilst mixed race children had one of 99 and black children 89.

                  The wikipedia page has a table of the results; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Transracial_Adoption_Study

                • pobjoy

                  ‘No detectable bias due to test construction or administration has been found, although this does not rule out other biases’

                  IQ tests are notoriously difficult to set without pre-conceived notions of what intelligence is. What is progressive brain patterning in one culture, or even sub-culture, may be regressive in another. Confirmation bias is a constant difficulty, without any issues of race to consider.

                  So it may be true that Western education has protocols, or ‘hoops’ through which students jump, of which universities are quite unaware; or, they may be unwilling to alter, due to external cultural pressures, that may be entirely legitimate. But legitimacy of one culture cannot be used to define legitimacy of all cultures. So it cannot be said that other cultures and associated races are inferior; and certainly not inherently criminous, as has been implied.

                • David Stirling

                  So IQ tests aren’t valid because for some reason black children (keeping in mind these are children who all grew up with white adoptive parents in similar households) are in some unspecified way culturally different which makes them worse at Maths? I think you’re stretching now.

                  Why are you so desperate to cling to your dogma of complete racial equality?

                • pobjoy

                  So IQ tests aren’t valid

                  That’s where many educationists have stopped. IQ is not the same as intelligence, which is probably beyond quantification, in the view of these people.

                • David Stirling

                  So why do black and mixed race children do so much worse than whites on them?

                  It seems that you think that intelligence is completely unknowable. But if that is the case, then what evidence do you have for thinking that all races are equally intelligent?

                  It seems to me like you’re desperately clinging to anything which will let you keep on believing that all races are perfectly equal.

                • pobjoy

                  It seems that you think that intelligence is completely unknowable.

                  If you can’t define it, you can’t know it, can you.

                  But if that is the case, then what evidence do you have for thinking that all races are equally intelligent?

                  I haven’t said that they are equally intelligent. What can be said is that those who note that certain groups of people are unsuccessful at Oxford University have to find a reason other than a genetic one. Obviously, that puts a moral strain on people, because their lack of success may be due to cheating in one way or another.

                • David Stirling

                  IQ obviously measures something, since it correlates with educational achievement and all sorts of measures of success in later life. Therefore it’s obviously hugely significant that blacks do worse in IQ tests than whites, even when raised in the same circumstances.

                  And if there is a genetic reason for low black educational achievement, then it’s hardly surprising that fewer blacks get into Oxford.

                • pobjoy

                  IQ obviously measures something, since it correlates with educational
                  achievement and all sorts of measures of success in later life.

                  🙂 Please give warning of a sense of humour. ‘Success’ in later life has little to do with intelligence, hard work, honesty or any other virtue! A great many people have been highly successful in economic terms, yet received only basic formal education. And a great many highly qualified people have been ineffective in work situations. All of them white-skinned.

      • Cyril Sneer

        So what he just said is true and the only answer you have is an insult.

    • justejudexultionis

      But the Black population more than makes up for their allegedly lower average IQ by not being full of honky bull****.

      • David Stirling

        Charming. What a benefit blacks and their vibrant culture of stabbing one another, abandoning their children and living off of benefits are to this country

      • Cyril Sneer

        Oh so you’re allergic to facts. How quaint.

  • mdj

    Throughout our history various, more privileged or established groups have monopolised the conventional paths to acceptance and success, while the newcomers take time – maybe even a couple of generations – to catch up. It may be a worthy task to speed this process, but we needn’t beat ourselves up over it.
    What worries me is the axiomatic assumption that one kind of advancement should monopolise the nation’s talent, which is a path to stagnation.
    Before the various Emancipation Acts, large sections of society, Quaker, Catholic, Methodist, were excluded from the establishment routes to success, and had to turn their talent and dynamism to finding new paths. This was enormously to the benefit of this country.

    To put it bluntly, if all the bright young sparks go via the academic route, who will employ them?
    It used to be the non-graduates who had made their own way!

    • justejudexultionis

      That still doesn’t explain, or indeed justify, why Oxford strongly dislikes non-Aryans.

      • mdj

        My staircase neighbour was Punjabi 40 years ago; or is he Aryan, I’m not sure?
        The figures seem to show that the Afro-Caribbeans aren’t applying; that needs tackling, if at all, somewhere other than Oxford.

      • Andrew Smith

        The article shows quite clearly that Oxford cannot be shown to be racially prejudiced. If you have some information indicating the contrary, please share it with us.

  • David Webb

    black British Caribbean ????? They’re NOT British!

    • justejudexultionis

      Caribbean origin, you tool.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      That remark would get you arrested by members of HM Immigration service. There’s this notice stating that abuse, specifically verbal, will not be tolerated. Sadly, this is not reciprocal, as said
      Immigration officers can and do verbally abuse members of the travelling public, presumably hoping to prevoke a reaction sufficient to justify an arrest.

      • EUSSR 4 All!

        No need to air your mental illness out loud, Andy “ex-Teesside Japanese” Milner!

  • Dean

    In the Olympic men’s 100m sprint final, all 8 competitors are of west african heritage. This is clear evidence of bias in athletics against white sprinters. We should demand quotas.

  • teepee

    “The fact that a young black man in Britain is more likely to go to prison that a top university does indeed shame our nation.” It should shame those young black men who choose to commit crime – and their apologists – but not ‘our nation’.

    • pobjoy

      It should shame those young black men who choose to commit crime

      What about the white men who choose to commit crime? Should they feel no shame?

      Some people commit crimes because they are poor, and they steal from people who have more than they do. It’s not right, but can the people who have more claim that they do not owe to people who have less? Are people who have more just luckier than those who have less? Or are they just better at crime?

      • hobspawn

         “…can the people who have more claim that they do not owe to people who have less? Are people who have more just luckier than those who have less? Or are they just better at crime?”

        Yes, no, no.

        • pobjoy

          From spawn of Satan, that reads no, yes, yes.

          Thank you.

          • hobspawn

            Let’s look at your version of what you, no doubt, call fairness:

            – those who have owe those who don’t so don’t bother striving

            – those who have more have not earned it no matter how able of hard working

            – having more is always due to crime, not ability or hard work

            I have visited some of the toxic fukworlds whose philosophy you champion, and I wouldn’t even wish that life on you.

            The big problem in the world today is that there is not a large enough gap between the rich and the less rich.

            • pobjoy

              those who have owe those who don’t so don’t bother striving

              That’s not justifiable from what I wrote. But for an idiot papist, it’s par for the course, and it’s not going to bother the conscience, either, is it.

              The big problem in the world today is that there is not a large enough gap between the rich and the less rich.

              As so many ‘popes’ believed.

              Then give all you have to the rich, and go to your eternal inheritance. You won’t be missed.

              • hobspawn

                 “…spawn of satan… …idiot papist… …you won’t be missed [when you’re dead]…” et cetera.

                Why is it that your particular brand of lemming leftism is always accompanied by personal vitriol? Are you trying to distract from the hollowness of your dogma?
                 

                • pobjoy

                  Notice how the papist commits a criminal offence by improper use of quote marks. Notice how the proof of the edited bits is contained in what is edited out. Demon possession reduces brain capacity.

                  But then people who condone murder may be expected to show it in their use of words.

                • hobspawn

                  Pedantry – another cunning distraction when you find your lemming leftism indefensible in the face of sensible analysis.

                  Misusing square brackets or whatever you think my grammar crime is, is not tantamount to condoning murder. Square brackets are often used to fill in what was implied but not said, in order to make a quote clear. You said “Then… …go to your eternal inheritance. You won’t be missed.” That really does mean “you won’t be missed [when you’re dead]”.

                  If you post again, please return to the important theorems you raised, that crimes are committed by society, not individuals, and that property is a crime which the state can redress by wealth redistribution.

                • pobjoy

                  Misusing square brackets or whatever you think my grammar crime is, is not tantamount to condoning murder.

                  It’s not grammar crime. But a Catholic would lie about that. But then, as murder is ok for Catholics, a lie is nothing.

                  crimes are committed by society

                  Crimes are committed by demon-possessed people like you.

                • hobspawn

                  Murder is not “OK for Catholics”. In fact, it’s specifically prohibited in the Old and New Testaments. As for lying, can you be particular?

                • Cyril Sneer

                  You lost the argument.

      • teepee

        ‘What about the white men …?’

        Pitiful, blatant point-avoiding.

        • pobjoy

          Pitiful, blatant point-avoiding. The point that gives the poster’s left buttock such great pain is that, irrespective of race, working class people commit low-level crimes because they are poor, and the indolent slob poster feels guilt for their condition.

          Picking on those with black skins just disguises the class-based inequality. So the discovered poster has another pain, now in his right buttock. And when you’re that heavy, it must be extra painful, I imagine.

  • Andrew Pritchard

    Agreed, but Oxford and some of its most notable graduates (including Rhodes and Cameron) are in large measure responsible for the gross inequalities in today’s world, which have engendered and perpetuated racism.

    • Count Spencer

      how?

      • Cyril Sneer

        He doesn’t know how, he just ‘feels it’. A typical lefty full to the brim with good ol’ lefty bigotry.

  • quotes

    I feel like an outraged lefty: I can’t shake the impression that Young is insinuating something rather unpleasant in that final line.

    • startledcod

      If he was it has passed me by; I think this is a particularly goof TY piece.

  • Yasmine

    The black students from the 2015 admissions would have been born in ~1997. At that point, 2% of the UK population were black. The proportion of black students accepted to Oxford this year? 64/2500=2.56%
    So if the intake actually is 2500 as predicted in other papers, black students would be over-represented among their peers. Which is fine, as long as they got the grades, because universities are meant to be merit based. Complaining about a lack of diversity makes NO SENSE if the diversity of the country itself is equally low.
    P.S. I have citations for all the figures if anybody wants to dispute my maths.

  • Kurien Parel

    Black students are less likely to admitted, with the same grades, and even to the most competitive courses, even when they have the highest possible grades at A level. Claims made by Oxford University to the contrary and repeated here have been shown to be false. This is exactly why more detailed statistics need to be published by Oxford University.

    http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/feb/26/oxford-university-ethnic-minority-applicants

    • Yasmine

      No, that’s not what the data shows. The offers are given BEFORE the students take A-levels, so are not based on A-level results. Offers are based on how well students do in aptitude tests and interviews. To prove discrimination you’d have to get statistics on those test results, not A-level grades.
      As for why BME students might do worse in those tests but better in their A-levels? Well the most likely reason is their fear of being discriminated against by prestigious universities – a fear you and others inculcate. If instead we told the truth: BME students are over-represented at Oxford compared to the population at large, maybe they’d stop worrying so much and do better in the aptitude tests!

      • Kurien Parel

        1. Tony Young repeats the false claims that A level grades and subject choice explains the disparities.
        2.It is a fact BME who score high in A levels are less likely to have received offers than white applicants to the exact same course at Oxford.
        3. There is no evidence that BME applicants do worse in the tests. It would be quite a coincidence that all ethnic minority groups (including Indian and Chinese applicants) do worse than white applicants only on the non-disclosed criteria.
        4.The data has never been released. Hence David Cameron is correct to push for more data to be released, then we can know with more certainty what is happening.
        5. As an aside, the University has not released the data on these other variables such as test scores,- it would stand to reason it would do so to defend themselves from criticism.

  • Hippograd

    As I say, the Prime Minister is right to highlight this issue. The fact that a young black man in Britain is more likely to go to prison that a top university does indeed shame our nation.

    Why should we feel shame over the failure of a group whose immigration was opposed by the majority of the white British? That group fails everywhere, except at violent crime and other forms of societal enrichment. Their failure is their own responsibility and the result of their own inadequacies and pathologies.

  • Cosmo

    “The fact that a young black man in Britain is more likely to go to prison than a top university does indeed shame our nation”. Why should that collectively shame the whole nation? If young black men prefer a life of crime to taking advantage of the educational opportunities offered to them, that is their problem. I, for one, feel no “shame” – or white guilt.

  • right1_left1

    I arsk ya.
    Described here is ‘Somebody or other’ gaining entrance to Oxford.
    Then being employed trying to encourage more ‘somebody or others’ (of the correct skin hue ) getting into Oxford.

    Sounds like a gravy train to me !

    Is that why we need immigration ?
    All the top brains do useless jobs ?

  • polidorisghost

    “David Cameron is plain wrong about Oxford and race.”

    It doesn’t matter whether he is right or wrong – He’s on manoeuvres.

  • Gilbert White

    Every MP should be made to on camera to teach these feral devils in our South London Schools? Would make rivetting big brother like entertainment especially seeing the emancipated labour backbencher wimmin being humilated by Lawrence lookalikes?

  • nutsingha

    I just wrote something about I.Q.s varying amongst different populations. Eastern Asians (ie. Chinese, Japanese) and Jewish people the highest average, hence do better than average in pretty much everything intellectual or academically based. It got deleted. This needs to be thought about, because they are the bare facts, as much as people do not want to think about it. There is NO racism in the selection process – let’s stop pretending otherwise! Unless we are prepared to have a discussion about how ‘racist’ it is that athletics is dominated by those of a certain background.

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