Oxbridge Underdog

UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, opened a can of worms on higher education when commenting on the entrance figures of ethnic minority students to Oxford or Cambridge. Although his statistics were slightly incorrect, the message was heard. Oxbridge is for the privileged and elite. There is no place there for state school students or ethnic minorities. They just don’t fit do they?

This is probably true. Ethnic minority students may well feel that the snooty and archaic values of Oxbridge are not for them. There are plenty of excellent colleges to attend and Oxbridge doesn’t need to be one of them.

However, there is also the argument that ethnic minority students are not prepared for Oxbridge whereas as their white counterparts are. Even if both attend private schools, the white student will be better groomed for the Oxbridge interview. Questions over extra curricula activities and even parents education have an impact. A caller on BBC London today spoke of her son’s rejection despite his outstanding grades. They questioned him on his parents education and as first generation migrants, they had left school at 16 to work.

Whilst ethnic minority intake is low, if you are of Indian background, you have a better chance. 77 Indian students were admitted in 2009. There might be an Indian Prime Minister of Great Britain yet.


2 Comments to “Oxbridge Underdog”

  1. I’m certainly not the calibre of Oxbridge as I wouldn’t have got the grades to get in but perhaps a rejection is just that and doesn’t necessarily reflect your background. There are a limited number of spaces, loads of clever kids and not all of them can get in. We are minorities and doesn’t the number of brown faces reflect that?

    I would not want affirmative action type policies as other families would rightly complain that such a move would also be unjust. Perhaps South Asian kids have to play more rugby and hockey and do things to make their application more interesting. I’m not sporty at all so there’s another reason to add to the long list of reasons my application would have been rejected!

  2. I still remember my Cambridge interview – the experience was the worst I have ever had of interviewing. I went to a state school where no one had gone to Oxbridge before me. Even though I asked for help from teachers, not one of them thought of doing a mock interview. On paper, I should have gotten in. I had the grades, the extra-curricular activities. In practise, I completely fluffed the interview. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, and as a result, nose-dived. I have had many interviews since, mostly for jobs, and I have not always been successful, but that first interview at Cambridge will always stand out in my memory as the worst.

    Maybe if ethnic minorities had more mock interviews, they’d do better? I think you could apply the same theory to children who go to state schools. From friends who ended up going to Oxbridge and who also went to private schools, I learned that they are practically groomed to go there, and have so much practise at mock interviews etc that by the time the actual interview day comes up, it’s a breeze for them.

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