University BME admissions up to 17 times lower than national average

Jane Lu 1 February 2016

Admissions data from 2015 reveals that Cambridge University continues to see an underrepresentation of domestic Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students. 

However, statistics on BME students fail to take into account distinctions between undergraduate and postgraduate, domestic and international students.

In 2015, students matriculating accross the University included only two British Black Caribbean students, 0.1% of the fresher population that year, compared to 1.7% nationally. British black African students were also disproportionately under-represented constituting 1.3% of the Cambridge freshers, with a national average of 5.9%. The University has not yet responded to The Cambridge Student’s request to comment on the issue.

Some British Asian groups also appear proportionally under-represented. British Bangladeshi students represent 0.4% of the Cambridge student population compared with 1.3% nationally.

British Pakistani students appear even more under-represented making up only 0.8% of Cambridge students, while they make up 3.4% of the general student body.

The University often claims to have a relatively high proportion of BME students; however their statistics fail to distinguish between international and home students. For example, in 2013, the University offered 23% of places to BME applicants. The national average of applicants was 36%.

Cambridge combines the statistics of all students. Over a third of the student population at the University are international students, but this figure is weighted by the large amount of international students in postgraduate study. By including these numbers in statistics, the lack of British BME students can easily be overlooked. 

The overall intake of British Black students in 2014 was as low as 1.2%. 

Micha Frazer-Carroll, Ethnic Minorities officer at Corpus Christi College, said: “When we break down the statistics… separating undergraduate from postgraduate, international students from home, offer holders from those who are actually admitted, and different ethnicities from one another, vast discrepancies crop up.”