Oxford University is set to launch a summer school targeting prospective applicants from “white British socio-economically disadvantaged areas”.
The summer school programme, run in partnership with the Sutton Trust, an education charity that works to increase social mobility, will seek students from disadvantaged rural and coastal areas.
In a statement to Cherwell, the Sutton Trust said that the scheme would specifically focus on “boys from disadvantaged backgrounds”.
An Oxford spokesman told Cherwell: “We are targeting all students from rural and coastal communities (and particular postcode classifications) because we’re keen to attract engagement from those areas given their past under-representation in outreach activities. That will likely include a lot of white working-class students, but it doesn’t exclude students from other nationalities and ethnicities.”
The spokesperson confirmed that it will be the only summer school targeting a specific demographic group this year.
Dr Samina Khan, Oxford University’s director of undergraduate admissions and outreach told the Telegraph: “By working intensively with one of the most under-represented groups in higher education, I hope that we can help students realise their potential and encourage high-achieving students from white British socio-economically disadvantaged areas to aim for top universities such as Oxford.”
“Less well of” white boys are the demographic group least likely to go to university in the UK, according to research conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) based on data from 2012.
In the academic years 2010/11 and 2011/12 around 33 per cent of white British school students enrolled in university, compared to 57 per cent of black African students and 67 per cent of Indian students. The IFS report further revealed that girls are eight per cent more likely to attend university than boys.
In her first statement as Prime Minister, Theresa May railed against this, calling for more to be done to “make Britain a country that works for everyone”.
Black and Asian applicants are however less likely to receive an offer from Oxford. According to Ucas data released in January, 26.3 per cent of white applicants are made offers, compared to 16.8 per cent of Asian applicants and 16.7 per cent of black applicants.
Femi Nylander, a prominent Rhodes Must Fall activist, said if it were the case that Oxford was specifically seeking to improve access for the white working class “it is a particularly strange development”
He said: “[it] plays into traditional tropes of ‘white working class people’ and ‘white working class men’ in particular solely constituting the working class.
“What is wrong with just working class outreach? Oxford’s issues with class cut across racial lines and such programs which solicit applications for specifically “white British socio- economically disadvantaged areas” come side by side with a complete lack of willingness to admit the university even has a problem with race.”