One of the Oxford winners of the upReach Ten Award for student social mobility, Renee Kapuku, suggested the University needs to “fulfil affirmations of commitment to social mobility through targets and data collection.”
Speaking to Cherwell, Kapuku suggested that University “work with and centre student voices, engaging with communities affected by lack of diversity and equality directly” and foster “open, candid conversations about diversity.”
An Oxford graduate currently studying at Harvard, Kapuku was recognised for her academic success and her work to increase opportunities for other disadvantaged students at the awards ceremony.
Kapuku attended a state school in North London and was the first student from her school to go to Oxford. During her time at Oxford, she was President of the African and Caribbean Society and her college’s first BME representative. Kapuku has also partnered with Goldman Sachs, Linklaters, and Teach First, delivering workshop across London for students of African and Caribbean heritage.
Kapuku did much to increase social mobility at Oxford while a student, helping to double and then triple the number of black undergraduates in the two years following her time as ACS president.
She told Cherwell: “I have had experience working closely with the University Admissions department during my undergraduate degree. Dr. Samina Khan, the current head of admissions, has been a joy to work with despite thecomplex issues she and the rest of the team face in ensuring that Oxford is a diverse intellectual community.
“Of course, whilst things have slightly improved there is much more to do for black students, as well as students from BME backgrounds and low-income backgrounds.“
The upReach Ten Award is given annually to ten students from lower socio-economic backgrounds who have achieved outstanding success either professionally, academically or personally. UpReach described one of the key aims of the award as the showcasing of emerging talents set to be the stars of the future.
Despite the work that has been put in by Kapuku and others, Oxford University is still working to improve its accessibility. Kapuku described working with communities directly, the existence of a robust framework to enforce social mobility commitments, and being proactive about encouraging diversity as the best way Oxford can increase its support for social mobility.