Tuesday, 24 October 2017

On the proportion of Black students at Oxford

So David Lammy has accused Oxford of not doing enough to recruit black students.

Is this true?

First of all, the 2011 UK census data shows the numbers of black 18 year olds, out of all 18 year olds. It's 57,428 out of 1,460,156, so about 4%. If only 1.5% of Oxford students are black, on the face of it we have a problem.

But whose problem is it? I googled for "A level results by ethnicity" and found this Freedom of Information request. (How cool is it, by the way, that these requests are available on an easy-to-find, functioning website?) The data here is a couple of years out of date, but it's a start.

Let's be realistic and assume you need 3 A grades to get to Oxford. 395,401 pupils took A levels. Of them, 12.5% got 3 A* or A grades. 8,532 of those pupils were black. Of them, 4.9% got 3 A* or A grades. That means about 418 black students got these grades, out of about 49425 students in all: 0.8%.

From this five minutes analysis, if anything, Oxford is doing rather well in the numbers of black students it admits. The problem is that the UK school system is not turning out enough well-qualified black students.

For any journalists reading, I hope this demonstration shows how easy it is for you to check the claims politicians make. Go and do likewise!

Update: a picture is worth a thousand words.