London university that boasts of being one of the most diverse in the UK failed one year to admit a single white working class student, shows document


From the Mail on Sunday. SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) is a bit of a niche market, but as the article mentions in passing the same is true of other universities with more mainstream courses. It does, of course, make a complete mockery of the claims of ‘diversity’

A university that boasts of being one of the most diverse in the UK failed one year to admit a single white working class student. The startling fact appears in a document detailing plans to improve access to SOAS University of London.

The document says the number of white undergraduates living in poor neighbourhoods that were recruited through the main UCAS admission round in 2017 was zero.

The disclosure will fuel growing concerns that white working class children, particularly boys, have become the education system’s forgotten dispossessed.

SOAS, where more than half of the intake is from ethnic minority backgrounds, describes itself as having ‘an exceptionally diverse student body’ and says its mission is to ‘recruit and teach diverse students’.

Yet its Access and Participation Plan for 2020-2025, which all universities must submit to the regulator to demonstrate how they will recruit and support under-represented groups, shows a worrying absence of white working class youngsters.

Other universities in London have admitted very low proportions under the measure. Imperial College (noted for science and engineering, and for crisis modelling figures which have proved consistently wrong) recruited 30 white applicants from poor neighbourhoods in 2017 – just one per cent of its intake.

Conservative MP Ben Bradley said the figures showed a drive for ‘diversity’ was leaving white working class communities behind. ‘Our institutions value diversity of skin colour more than background or experience,’ he said. 

A report by the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) last year found that at more than half of institutions, less than five per cent of students were white and from areas where very few young people go to university.

Graeme Atherton, director of NEON, said its analysis of universities’ 2020-2021 access plans showed only four had specific targets relating to white working class students. He said: ‘If they don’t feature, they are not a strategic priority and if they are not a priority, universities are less likely to do work with them.’

From the Evening Standard, December last year. 

Two top private schools have sparked a national race row after they rejected a £1 million scholarship donation intended exclusively for poor white boys. Dulwich College and Winchester College turned down the gift from philanthropist Sir Bryan Thwaites, 96, over fears it would break equality laws.

Dulwich headmaster Dr Joe Spencer said the college was “resistant” to donations “made with any ethnic or religious criteria.” A spokeswoman for Winchester College said “acceptance of a bequest of this nature would neither be in the interests of the school as a charity nor the specific interests of those it aims to support through its work”.

Sir Bryan, who was a scholarship student at both colleges, planned to help disadvantaged, white British boys after studies showed they performed worse academically than almost every other ethnic group. . . in what he hoped would help address “the severe national problem of the underperforming white cohort in schools,”

Sir Bryan defended his proposed grant by citing the rapper Stormzy, who established a Cambridge University scholarship scheme soley for black British students earlier this year.

“If Cambridge University can accept a much larger donation in support of black students, why cannot I do the same for underprivileged white British?” he asked.

Former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Trevor Phillips, blamed a “lethal cocktail of inverted snobbery, racial victimhood and liberal guilt” for the reluctance to help white boys, whom he described as “today’s educational left-behinds . . . two well-known fee-paying schools have lost bequests totalling over £1 million that might have supported some of our most disadvantaged children for one reason: the donor, like Stormzy, wants his money to go to people of his own background – poor but talented white British boys.”

I faced opposition in 1972 when I wanted to study for a degree, but my parents and I took no notice; 5 years later my efforts had made life easier for my young cousin to persuade his family to support his ambitions. It seems that in less than 50 years we have gone backwards. 

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