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Oxford delays publication of access reports because of current “world events”

The University of Oxford have delayed the publication of their yearly admissions and diversity data, due to be published today, in light of current “world events”.

The HuffPost UK had access to an email circulated on Wednesday which notified staff of this delay. In this email, the university stated they felt “strongly that this is not the right time to share our data”, alluding to the ongoing global Black Lives Matter protests against racial injustice in response to the murder of George Floyd last week.

The report gives annual detailed diversity data on university admissions. Last year, the ‘Annual Admissions and Statistical Report’ found that the 2018 intake saw an increase in the proportion of students admitted from state schools from 57.2% to 60.5%. The report aims to make data on ethnicity, age, gender, disability, economic background, education and geographic residency area more transparent in order to improve outreach efforts.

The HuffPost quotes the email, which reportedly reads: “After careful consideration of the current world events and also learning that Cambridge will not be publishing its admissions data until late June, the decision to postpone the release of the annual admissions statistical report has been taken,” the email states.

“The delay also allows us more time to work on announcing our commitment to outreach through our digital outreach programmes, which are being delivered despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and particularly the closure of schools since March 2020.”

This comes after the University has received backlash for its response to the Black Lives Matter protests. Users on Twitter have responded with mentions of the University’s issues with racism, particularly regarding The Union, affiliations with Cecil Rhodes, and the rejection of the Stormzy Scholarship.

Yesterday, June 3rd, South Parks saw hundreds of protesters manifesting their solidarity with George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.

A spokesperson for the University explained: “The University of Oxford was scheduled to publish its annual Undergraduate Admissions Report this week. However, as world events have escalated over the last ten days, it became obvious that now was not the time to share this content. In fact, some headline admissions figures have already been published, in January this year, and revealed that the University is now attracting more ethnic minority students, including Black students, than ever. Having already shared this core information, it felt deeply inappropriate to publish content that could distract from the important challenges and debate facing our society at this time and try to draw attention to our own progress on the figures. The report will therefore appear later this month.

“Oxford abhors racism and discrimination of any description and protecting the wellbeing of our Black and ethnic minority student and staff community is a University priority. Recent events have shone a light on imperfections everywhere, including at Oxford, and we are working hard to build towards a truly diverse community. Our admissions figures are an important indicator of our progress but we also need to guarantee an inclusive and respectful learning environment for all.”

The University reassures the report will be published by the end of the month.

Image credit: Ellie Wilkins

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