The Prime Minster, David Cameron, has claimed in an article for The Sunday Times that, “if you’re a young black man, you’re more likely to be in a prison cell than studying at a top university”.
The comments were made in an attempt to show that, despite a drop in “blatant racism”, in the Prime Minister’s words, there are still “under the surface” layers of discrimination.
He went on to say that, “it’s striking that in 2014, our top university, Oxford, accepted just 27 black men and women out of an intake of more than 2,500.”
Whether the claims are true are still being debated, however the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) stated that in 2013-14 some 2,655 black students from the UK were attending Russell Group universities. This compares to the 2,644 young black British men aged 18-25 in prison, the statistic which the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills provided.
The Russell Group itself claimed that in 2013-14 there were 4,520 black British males at their universities, meaning that either statistic seems to prove the Prime Minister’s comments wrong. Downing Street claimed that HESA were also the source of their figures and that they had interpreted the figure as 2,315. The wider debate, however, around ethnic background and wider university admissions is an ongoing and sensitive one. Despite more admissions to university, a number of students from certain backgrounds seem to go against this trend.
Young people from certain northern cities are, for example, less likely to attend university than their fellow students from London. According to statistics provided by the University, as of December 2015 some 3,615 students at York are members of the BME community. However, it is unknown how many of this group are young black males.