Image Credit: Oxford SU
Joe Inwood, Oxford SU President, has announced in a blog post that he intends to make Access the key priority campaign area for the SU this year.
This decision follows what Inwood described as the “intense scrutiny” the University has been subject to regarding admissions over the past several years.
The Financial Times for example reported on the issue pointing out the enormous differences between Colleges in their BAME-students admissions statistics: “Over the past three years, the BAME success rate as St Anne’s College has been 13.7 per cent, while the white success rate has been 38.0 per cent.
“At St Edmund Hall the corresponding figures are 13.3 per cent and 32.0 per cent, but at Lincoln College it is a far more equal 23.1 per cent and 24.8 per cent.”
The admissions report released earlier this year by the University highlighted just how bad the Access problem was, although it did show a positive trend towards an increasingly more diverse student body.
In his recent blog post Joe Inwood drew attention to the work being done by “ brilliant societies like First-Gen and Oxford ACS, schemes like Oxford SU Target Schools, the recent ‘Humans of Oxford University’ and the leadership shown by JCR Presidents through Presidents’ Committee.”
On top of this, more and more student-run societies are taking the initiative to campaign on Access related issues. Just last month the Islamic Society ran their first Oxford Muslim Access Conference in London for example which was hugely successful in bringing together talented muslim sixth formers and current Oxford students to challenge common misconceptions about studying at Oxford.
Inwood goes on in his blog post to state: “This year, we have the opportunity to make a real difference, and Oxford SU intends to seize it.
“The new universities regulator, the Office for Students (OfS), has demanded radical action. Chris Millward, Director for Fair Access and Participation, said this in his recent foreword to the OfS consultation on access:
‘We are a long way from equality of opportunity in relation not just to access, but also student success and progression. We want to ratchet up the level of ambition, especially in the universities that have the biggest gaps in access and participation […] It’s really a once in a generation opportunity to drive the transformational change that current and potential students deserve.’
“Oxford will soon need to submit an access and participation plan to the OfS. This plan must set admissions targets on a wide range of underrepresented groups, and we want the university to be more ambitious than it has ever been before.”
Lucas Bertholi Saad, Vice President of Oxford SU ( Access and Academic Affairs) has told The Oxford Student, “ that Oxford University has been an elitist white male institution for the last 800 years and the University must now try to actively diversify to make up for this lost time.”
He added: “ I will be taking a motion to the Student Council to put forward the ‘Access Vision’ of the SU for the coming year, which will focus on making sure that the University promotes excellence in all its forms, whether in inclusivity or in academic performance.”
The motion will be submitted at the next Student Council meeting, which is on the 10th October.