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David Cameron in Oxford race row

David Cameron was embroiled in a race row with Oxford University yesterday after claiming that only one black student had started studying at the institution last year.

When asked at an event in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, whether tuition fees of £9,000 a year would put off poorer students, the Prime Minister said top universities needed to attract those students.

“I saw figures the other day that showed only one black person went to Oxford last year,” he added. “I think that is disgraceful. We have got to do better than that.”

However, Oxford University immediately responded. “The figure quoted by the Prime Minister is incorrect and highly misleading,” said a spokeswoman for the university.

While Mr Cameron's aides accepted he should have said one black Caribbean undergraduate, they accused Oxford of "missing the point", saying that the total number of black undergraduates admitted was just 27.

Mr Cameron made his comments about his old university during a question and answer session in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

A spokeswoman for the university said the figure only referred to UK undergraduates of black Caribbean origin starting courses in 2009/10.

There were an additional 26 students who said they were of black origin, and another 14 of mixed black descent.

"The figure quoted by the Prime Minister is incorrect and highly misleading - it only refers to UK undergraduates of black Caribbean origin for a single year of entry, when in fact that year Oxford admitted 41 UK undergraduates with black backgrounds," the spokeswoman said.

"In that year a full 22% of Oxford's total student population came from ethnic minority backgrounds."

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The figure the PM used was from a response to a Freedom of Information request submitted by (Labour MP) David Lammy which clearly states that only one black Caribbean student was admitted to Oxford in 2009."

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