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Cambridge Uni calls for help in enrolling black students

CAMBRIDGE: The prestigious university has been criticised for its low number of black students

FOLLOWING THE backlash over lack of diversity seen in Britain’s most prestigious academic institutions, Cambridge University has asked for help to increase its numbers of black students.

Out of Cambridge's 29 undergraduate colleges, six admitted less than 10 black British students between 2012 and 2016, according to an investigation by the Financial Times.

Referring to the criticism it has faced in recent weeks and its plans to improve, the university said: "Ultimately the university isn't going to be able to bring about this change on its own.

"We need the support of schools and parents too."

The university also released a statement which read: “More needs to be done to prepare high-achieving black students for applications to Cambridge and Oxford, which is why we have significantly increased the funding we contribute to programmes like Target Oxbridge.”

In response to the revelations, Sandra Kerr OBE, race equality director at Business in the Community, says there is progress to be made.

“Although this report shows that Cambridge is making progress in admitting BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) students, there is still work to be done.

Attending an elite university can often be a stepping-stone into prestigious careers, so it’s vital we ensure BAME applicants are being given a fair chance to access these institutions and increase diversity at every level of society”.

She further emphasised the importance of having a more inclusive approach. “I would encourage Cambridge and all other universities to involve BAME employees in the selection process where possible and to provide unconscious bias training to all staff involved in these processes.

“Universities should also set targets for BAME student representation and monitor the selection process to identify and tackle areas where BAME students are disproportionately dropping out.”

Kerr also suggested that Cambridge could increase its intake of black students by giving better support to schools with a diverse body of students.

She said: “Finally, they should engage with schools with diverse potential candidates, including providing comprehensive pre-application guidance so young people understand what is expected and giving feedback to unsuccessful candidates to help develop their skills further.

“These actions will ensure that young people from all ethnic backgrounds have an equal chance to succeed.”

The announcement comes after Labour MP David Lammy branded Oxford University as “a bastion of entrenched wealthy upper-class, white, southern privilege”.

His call to action urged every university in the UK to publish its annual admissions data, in order to promote transparency.

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