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Increase in black students admitted to Cambridge University

The prestigious institution said black students made up 3.4% of this year’s UK undergraduate intake.

There has been an increase in the number of black students taking up places at Cambridge University (Joe Giddens/PA)
There has been an increase in the number of black students taking up places at Cambridge University (Joe Giddens/PA)

By Alison Kershaw, PA Education Correspondent

More black students are being admitted to Cambridge University, figures from the prestigious institution show.

For the first time, black students made up more than 3% of the undergraduate intake, which is reflective of wider UK society, the university said.

It said the rise was due to a number of factors, including the “Stormzy effect”.

The grime artist is funding the tuition fees and living costs for two students each year.

The figures come at a time when the UK’s most selective universities are under intense pressure to recruit more students from a broader range of backgrounds.

Cambridge’s data shows that 91 black students have been admitted to the university this year, up around 50% from 61 who started courses last autumn (2018/19).

This means that black UK students make up 3.4% of the 2,663 UK students overall who were admitted to the institution this year.

A breakdown of the numbers admitted by Cambridge’s 29 undergraduate colleges is not currently available.

The university said it means that this year, there will be more than 200 black undergraduates studying at Cambridge in total, a record number.

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Stormzy has said he will fund the tuition fees and living costs for two Cambridge students each year (Matt Crossick/PA)

Ucas figures show that, as of September 12, 33,730 black UK students had been accepted on to degree courses at British universities and colleges, meaning black students make up 7.9% of UK acceptances in total.

According to the last national census, around 4% of all 18-24-year-olds in England and Wales are black.

Cambridge’s figures also show that 26.8% of its undergraduate students this year are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

We have achieved this without any reduction in offer levels or provision of preferential treatment Professor Graham Virgo, Cambridge University

Professor Graham Virgo, Cambridge’s senior pro-vice-chancellor for education said the university had been working hard to show that it is a welcoming place for all students.

“This record rise in the number of black students is a credit to their hard work and ability: we have not lowered entry standards.

“It is also a credit to the hard work put in by admissions staff across the university and colleges in running various outreach activities, and the positive campaigns run by our student societies and external partners.

“We have achieved this without any reduction in offer levels or provision of preferential treatment.”

Cambridge said one factor for the hike was the announcement by Stormzy in August last year that he will fund the tuition fees and living costs for two students each year for the duration of their time at Cambridge.

Since then, there has been an increase in the number if black students taking part in outreach activities and enquiring about courses, the university said.

It added that other factors include the involvement of several student societies in promoting the university of different groups of potential students, and proactive campaign work.

Wanipa Ndhlovu, president of the University’s African-Caribbean Society (ACS), said: “This is really good news and is a testament to the hard work that ACS, as well as the university, has been putting in to break down perceptions.

“It should send out a signal to other black students that they can find their place at Cambridge and succeed.”

David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, who has raised concerns in the past over diversity at top universities, said: “It is a shame it has taken so long, but it’s obviously very good news that the number of black students getting into Cambridge has seen such progress this year.

“There is still much more work to do to sustain this, especially given the reality that under 21s are considerably more ethnically diverse than the general population.

“Radical reforms are still required if Britain’s top universities are to get the best talent, regardless of background, school, geographical location and class.”

PA

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