Oxford University has released a statement explaining its decision to postpone publication of its Undergraduate Admissions Report, which was revealed this morning by HuffPost UK after internal emails showed university staff being told ‘world events’ meant the release of the report was inappropriate. The statement reads:
“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 original email sent to university staff noted that “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,”
It went on to say, “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.”
A post on the university’s website releasing last year’s Undergraduate Admissions Report stated it provides “detailed figures… for undergraduate entry over the past five years, broken down by region, race, socio-economic background, gender and disability. There are also figures for every Oxford college and academic department.”
The decision to postpone the release of the report comes amidst protests and demonstrations across the world over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, with a Black Lives Matter protest also occurring in Oxford yesterday.
Many have criticised Oxford’s response to the unrest, after the university posted a message on Twitter stating that they were “committed to supporting our community in opposing racism in all its forms, including upholding anti-racist values.”
Multiple Twitter users cited the university’s failure to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes outside Oriel College, or its refusal to accept a black scholarship program proposed by UK rapper Stormzy, as well as other race related controversies in its recent past.