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Diversity at Durham? No sign of it!

(57 Posts)
Dunlurking Tue 03-Feb-15 12:49:22

AIBU to think Durham University only want British students who are white? Have been browsing through my (mixed race) year 12 ds' pile of prospectuses. I am gobsmacked. The Durham University undergraduate prospectus has 22 little "meet the student" profiles. All with a photo showing a white student. There is one with a non English name (possibly) but no photo.

Also look at this youtube clip here Same. And all very public school; the clip starts with rowing. Now that will really attract the ethnic inner city kids from state schools!

Maybe I'm being naive but WHY would any state school educated non white teenager believe Durham would be interested in them.? Is that the point? I CANNOT BELIEVE the university gets away with this. Don't they have to prove they are encouraging equality/diversity? They get our taxes!

TooHasty Tue 03-Feb-15 15:43:46

Do they get your taxes?

PotteringAlong Tue 03-Feb-15 15:44:50

I live in Durham and I think you're completely unreasonable

PotteringAlong Tue 03-Feb-15 15:45:49

And why wouldn't rowing attract inner city state school kids? I'd never rowed before uni and I loved it.

PotteringAlong Tue 03-Feb-15 15:46:49

And surely the issue isn't whether you want to study there but if your DS does?

RandomFriend Tue 03-Feb-15 15:52:41

YABU. DD is non-white and non-English and she has just received an offer.

ElectronicDischarge Tue 03-Feb-15 16:05:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LillyEvans Tue 03-Feb-15 16:06:17

I went to a state school and a couple of my non-white school friends went to Durham.

I don't know what the figures are for ethnic minorities and private v. state school student numbers at university so can only speak from my own experience.

My university (not Durham) had a lot of public school students, and a lot less ethnic minorities than what I was used to from school, though my friendship group was very mixed.

I think there probably are movemore public school students than state at a lot of the top universities. I think the ethnic mix will have a lot more to do with the area (I think London universities probably are more mixed) and also the fact that white is the majority group in the UK.

LillyEvans Tue 03-Feb-15 16:07:55

I don't know what rowing has to do with it. Lots of kids from all ethnic groups won't have rowed before.

TurnOverTheTv Tue 03-Feb-15 16:09:58

I live in durham too and see a huge range of students everyday. Have you ever been to Durham OP?

NerrSnerr Tue 03-Feb-15 16:11:05

How many of your taxes do they get?

BOFster Tue 03-Feb-15 16:13:28

My dd got in from a state school and hadn't rowed before, but she's now in great demand on the college teams for her coxing skills. Quite where she got her talent for barking instructions at a team while doing none of the hard work herself, I don't know wink.

It does sound as though there is an issue with their publicity material though, if it isn't reflecting the diversity of their students.

Dunlurking Tue 03-Feb-15 18:36:43

Thanks for the replies. I have been to Durham and I have seen the non white students there, my friends' children are there and love it and I know how good the degrees are. But my ds hasn't been yet. He only has the prospectus to go on and it ain't doing its job! He's already thinking he wouldn't fit in there. I've got a job on my hands just to get him to an Open Day. So as BOFster says - there is an issue with the publicity......

titchy Tue 03-Feb-15 18:50:32

Then email the director of marketing!

KatherinaMinola Tue 03-Feb-15 18:56:00

YANBU OP - it is truly shocking. I don't know how they get away with this in 2015. I think I might (might) have caught sight of a Black person in the gym scene but it was very quick.

This isn't just the marketing - this will have been signed off by someone very senior. Tweet them - or contact a journalist about it - seriously.

Kez100 Tue 03-Feb-15 19:10:28

It is jut as bad if the Uni is diverse and their marketing material is clearly avoiding them!

Dunlurking Wed 04-Feb-15 08:50:41

Thanks titchy, KatherinaMinola and Kez100. I'm not a "go to the press" person. There are plenty of journalists who haunt mumsnet for a good story so they can research it for themselves if they want. I might contact The Communications Office at Durham uni though.

I have now found a better youtube clip to show ds, linked from the uni website here

boys3 Wed 04-Feb-15 19:36:45

Sadly I don't think it would make a good story as it just reflects the reality at Durham. It (the university) is very white, very middle class, and with one of the highest proportions (around 37%) of private school educated students of any UK university. To be fair to Durham I suppose they don't try to hide this, the link below seems to be their most recent published statistics, and can make for some fairly grim reading.

Queens Campus seems to be better.

A lot of the Durham outreach work seems to be locally focused - perhaps not surprising. The stats for successful applicants from inner city Newcastle might be interesting, but I could not see (skim read only) that level of detail on their published stats.

But are you BU? quite possibly not.

However please try not to let your DS be too put off. I very much doubt there is any bias once an application is received, its just, as you observe, a whole section of potential applicants may not exactly feel encourage to apply in the first place.

Dunlurking Fri 06-Feb-15 08:43:23

Thank you boys3 for the link (and the encouragement). That was very interesting.

Sorry I forgot to say a particular thank you to you earlier, ElectronicDischarge, for posting your experiences.

JillyR2015 Sat 07-Feb-15 14:58:46

I am from up there. 97% of people in Northumberland (not too far from Durham) are white British. It is utterly different from London where I now. I know Durham is happy with any brilliant enthusiastic student with wonderful grades - does not matter what colour you are.

2rebecca Sat 07-Feb-15 22:04:02

I agree that I spent a lot of years in NE England and it is a largely white British area once you go north of Leeds/ Bradford. I think if they have lots of non white students and pretend not to that's unreasonable, but I think a uni prospectus should reflect the students that are there, or should all unis prospectuses have to have a strict ratio of black/ white male female etc students in it so they all look the same?
Some unis eg Imperial have a high number of international students. Should they take a few of them out of their prospectus to keep their "quota" uniform?
Maybe all prospectuses should use actors rather than real students then they won't have to worry about whether or not their students who are photographed are the "right" colour or not.
Maybe engineering prospectuses should be forced to have some girl actors in it to pretend the sex mix is equal and Norland nannies should have to have lots of boys.

Molio Sat 07-Feb-15 22:36:08

Completely agree 2rebecca. This is an incredibly shallow original post. It's judging purely by colour of skin. Durham has focussed its outreach on its own local area for decades and for very good reasons. As a Durham graduate and with a small amount of knowledge about its outreach I'd say the clip was honest and that the university is much less narrow minded than the author of the original post.

Molio Sat 07-Feb-15 22:38:43

Also, your youtube clip has no voices. Probably better to listen to some of the college ads before you make silly 'public school' judgments.

ChocolateWombat Sun 08-Feb-15 10:03:16

I think the OP was just making a comment about the publicity that she saw. Regardless of how many minorities there are at Durham or local people or non-privately educated, if the prospectus makes Durham look like it is an extension of a boarding school for white people, there IS a marketing problem.
It's interesting to hear how things like a prospectus can be viewed differently by different groups. I expect the Durham one appeals to the Majority of applicants who are white middle class and who like the idea of rowing and other exclusive activities. Those applying from very different cultural,economic and ethnic backgrounds might find it off-putting. As Durham wants to attract able candidates from all backgrounds (and especially from disadvantaged ones) then perhaps it needs to think more about the marketing - it is likely that fairly small changes could make a big difference.

And the issue of attracting those from ethnic/cultural/economically different backgrounds to all high flying universities remains. For kids who have grown up in areas where few go to university and where few from their school go, many of our universitities will seem very alien and scary. Lots of work is being done to address these issues, but for many the first point of contact with a Uni will be the prospectus of website, and these need to get it right.

Littleham Sun 08-Feb-15 10:41:10

I agree with you ChocolateWombat. You have to be especially bloody minded to apply to some universities if your school doesn't send any applicants to that particular institution.

One of my daughters applied to Durham and the head of sixth form (state comp) said to her that she didn't recommend applying as she would be unlikely to get an offer (in her whole career she had only ever known one person to get an offer). She applied anyway and got an offer, but the public school marketing did worry her a bit, in case she ended up being the odd one out. However, when we went to visit the people couldn't have been more welcoming (so we came away with a different impression).

I think state candidates have a tendency to self select and avoid some universities eg London because of accommodation costs.

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