This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
why ethnic minorities are under represented in Oxbridge...(27 Posts)
I am an Asian and my kids do perform well( fitting in with the stereotype) academically but also do music, sports ( to a degree), volunteering, lazing around, going out with friends etc.,
She came home yesterday and told that she probably will not apply as she won't fit in Cambridge and would rather go somewhere else instead, which made me wonder that there are probably not many Asian students in these institutions.
There is another thread about Asian children in grammar schools and how they are over represented, if so why they don't go to these universities.
it is interesting to read about people's perception on Asian families😃
There are loads of Asians at Oxbridge, including many unapologetic wealthy Asians from overseas.
The myth of oxbridge being for a cliche of white public school kids is kind of true, but not numerically accurate especially if you include postgraduates..
Based on my the recent experience of my DDs and their friends, you could not be more wrong.
The Oxbridge Colleges must be tearing their hair out. It seems that no amount of outreach can overcome the perception - perpetuated, I suspect, by many teachers - that certain kids will not 'fit in'.
The more real issue is whether she is up for the sort of workload which now seems to be imposed on all undergraduates in all subjects. Since my time at Cambridge in the early 80s the ethos has changed and the time for extra curricular participation in sport and the arts has become very restricted. If that's important to her she might be happier at somewhere like Durham.
This gives the ethnic breakdown of Cambridge's student body, 2015/16
Approx 27% non-white.
I was home late last night and was in a grumpy mood( work related) so did not ask her why?
It could be she feels that you need to work really hard and she does not want to go to such an intensive environment.
It has been a bit unsettling in the sixth form.. so we have a new crisis everyday!!
Last week she had a wobble about her A level choices, which was chosen by her with a lot of to and fro between humanities and science subjects...now she does not want to apply to certain universities. I understand this will probably be settling down in due course...
One of my DS is a recent Oxford graduate and believe me, there were many, many Asian students (from all over the world), and despite newspaper articles to the contrary about his particular course/year intake, a number of black African/Caribbean decent students (many students of all ethnic backgrounds decline to answer the ethic/religious/nationality questions).
At least half of my DS large group of friends were from non selective, non fee paying, state schools (including DS).
If your DD wants to apply, she should apply - it's her mind they are interested in, nothing else
What rubbish. Oxbridge is very international and ethnically diverse students attend from all over the world. Has she actually visited?
I'd love to know why you think that Oxbridge is white?
The level of international students at top Unis means that they are very diverse
and highly academic British Asians of all varieties are at top Unis in large numbers
I've found visiting 'top' units here and in the US that there are quite a lot of Asian students - probably disproportionately high amount in relation to the local community (I haven't counted though).
Maybe she was just having a wobble about getting the grades. If you don't try...
ProfessorLayton if it were my DD I would be saying that is rubbish re ethnic minorities but Oxbridge is a long shot for most applicants particularly more recently with the weight of numbers applying in many subjects. However unless she has five other preferred choices it is always worth a shot as the tests and interviews are useful experiences and she does not have to go even if she does get in.
She should not feel that she will be a disappointment if she tries but does not get in or does not feel single-minded enough to want it.
For very many bright students, Oxbridge is their first taste of not ''measuring-up' to expectations.
Even in my day back in the dark ages there were lots of Asian and sub continent students, though mainly in maths, medicine and the sciences. It was the African/Afro-Caribbean numbers that were deplorable, along with looked after children, Gypsy Roma Traveller, and white social classes DE.
And Oxbridge and the "top end" RG work their socks off on broadening their intake, am sure that's true more broadly.
If she's scared, see if her school has a link with a college and she can go up and meet someone, think about open days with a friend, go to lots of the RG and others anyway, find out what makes her most comfy. One of the brightest young people I know refused to try because s/he doesn't like interviews and one-on-one or two -on -one tutorials, fair enough, it's not for everyone.
But don't let her be put off by myth...
I have managed to speak to her regarding this...she says that someone in school said she should be ^passionate ^about the subject is she is applying to Oxbridge and she is not passionate enough
She is generally quite laid back and does not show her feelings very much ( apart from feminism, anti Trump..)
She is capable of having a bash at it and I did explain that there are four other universities she will be applying ( that was a news to her!)
Hopefully this is just a wobble with so many changes in sixth form and things will settled down soon
I have said that I will support her in whatever decision she makes ...she is under no pressure and we are ok if she wants to take apprenticeship or gap year.
This 'passionate' business is a nonsense phrase that has really got out of hand. It just puts off those who are honest enough to say they are not 'passionate' though they might be interested or even very interested in a subject. If you haven't got some interest in the subject you are proposing to study then yes, better have another think whatever university you are aiming for. But there honestly isn't any more need for 'passion' at Oxbridge than at anywhere else except for the fact that there is an interview stage to get through and a more personal teaching style so interest and engagement are important.
Well worth applying. Most don't get in but that is just because it is so competitive. Not because applicants didn't manage to look 'passionate' enough.
To be honest it’s teachers like your daughter’s that are the cause of many Asian and Indian kids not applying to Oxbridge. Those teachers don’t even know what the admissions process is at any red brick and don’t research. I say if your daughter wants to apply then she should - you could even contact Oxbridge directly if you want to arrange an open day.
So it’s not really down to her being asian, but she’s using that as an excuse because if what the teacher said?
Tell her she should look ar the courses, visit as many uni’s as she can, and make her own mind up. If she likes oxbridge, she can take a shot, like you say it’s not a matter of oxbridge or nothing.
If after visiting she feels it’s not for her, fair enough.
There were relatively high numbers of Asian students even back in my day at Cambridge (around 30 years ago) and numbers have grown. Black British students (African/Caribbean origin) are still under-represented, however.
The perception that Oxford and Cambridge are socially elitist/racist/not-for-the-likes-of-us is a self-perpetuating myth that seems resistant to all attempts to change perceptions.
"passionate" is just another way of saying "don't be a lazy sod"- as ;long as she is prepared to work hard and be active in seminars that will be passion enough
I can't comment on Oxbridge but I think there is something very "white" about many RG universities. If not in the actual demographic data then in the mindset. IME you can get in if you have brown or black skin, but you have to have a white worldview. I turned down a RG uni at undergrad level in favour of one that seemed to have a more open-minded worldview (but still ranks well academically). Now gone back to a RG one for further study and found that a) many of the non-white students are also non-British and b) the content of the lectures is far more western-centric than at my previous uni. At one of the RG unis where I interviewed I only saw 2 or 3 non-white students during the course of the day.
I was at Cambridge 20 years ago, and in Engineering lectures, we used to joke about "the Great Wall of China" in the lecture theatre . I'm Chinese so I joined the wall sometimes!
It's not ethnic minorities who are under represented at Oxbridge. It is poor people from poor homes. This applies as much to poor white people as it does to poor Afro Caribbean and Asian families.
And by "poor" I do not just mean financially disadvantaged. There are some families with low incomes but supportive families, an incredible work ethic and a rich cultural capital.
True about poor people in RG. Also, for some reason, super rich UK Asians tend to prefer the US over the UK for education.
That is not my experience. I think there are a lot of Asians but not enough blacks at Oxbridge. My sons go to what is basically an Asian secondary school or did until they left. (They are white)
Some of the Asian boys are required to live with a relative at university (not most by any means) so are going to a university near a relative. One has his whole family (I kid you not...) moving en masse to the university city he is going to. Others are going to universities (very good ones) in London because they want to or are required to live at home. So those anecdotal reasons will account for a few losses. None of my (white) children tried Oxbridge as they thought they would be unlikely to get in and they were right about that - not enough A* at GCSE etc.
Fern, that's interesting about "white world view". My children who have studied ancient history do Greeks (who I suppose aren't really white), Romans etc but not say ancient amazonian or celtic traditions so I suppose that is narrow but in a slightly different way. We are in the UK so there is bound to be some studying of UK history or traditions on UK courses. You could also argue we study the history of men not women and thus leave out 50% of experience. The BBC Ascent of Women TV series showed a lot of interesting stuff on that. I think it's on youtube now.
Also some people come to the UK because they want a Western education and to get high paid jobs in City institutions and to learn to fit in with and excel in that culture so in a sense they are paying the foreign student fees to be immersed in and study a very UK centric set of stuff deliberately and that can be to their advantage not disadvantage.
(I tell my teenagers we only use the word "passion" to describe sexual intercourse. I do not know like the way people use it to describe their enthusiasm for subjects. It is on my list of disapproved terms.......)