An odd disagreement has erupted between British Prime Minister David Cameron and Oxford University and black enrollment at the prestigious university.
Speaking at a PM Direct event in North Yorkshire, Cameron alleged that only black British undergraduate won a position at Oxford in 2009, calling it a disgrace.
'I saw figures the other day that showed that only one black person went to Oxford last year. I think that is disgraceful, we have got to do better than that,” he said.
''And I think this system – because you don't start paying back until you start earning £21,000 – we can help people get to the best universities in the country.''
Cameron made the comments when he was asked about rising tuition fees and what impact they would have on poorer students. He replied that that top schools need to abide by strict rules if they sought to impose the maximum school fees; he also added that these elite institutions needed to draw more academic talent for more-deprived students.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister stated that: The wider point he was making was that it is not acceptable for universities like Oxford to have so few students coming from black and minority ethnic groups.
Oxford University quickly refuted the Prime Minister’s charges, labeling them incorrect and misleading.
A spokeswoman for the university said the figure cited by Cameron only referred to UK undergraduates of black Caribbean descent who were beginning courses for the 2009/2010 school year.
University officials claim there are actually 26 black students studying at Oxford, with another 14 who are of “mixed black” origin.
There were an additional 26 students who said they were of black origin, and another 14 of mixed black descent. [Out of a total of about 3000 students].
In that year a full 22 percent of Oxford's total student population came from ethnic minority backgrounds, the official stated.
Also, the figures Cameron cited did not include postgraduates, non-British undergraduates, or undergraduates who refused to identify their ethnic background.
Cameron also condemned the top universities from not accepting more students from state schools, saying the numbers have steadily decline for two decades.
''That is a terrible record,'' he told the audience.
The Russell Group, which represents Britain’s top schools, also denied these assertions by Cameron.
Wendy Piatt, the group's director general, said it was simply not true, citing that the percentage of state-school students at Russell Group universities had climbed by 9 percent since 1997.
This rate of growth exceeds the growth in the proportion of state school students across all UK universities, which was 8.6 percent in the same period, she said.
Cameron is himself an alumnus of Oxford.