Oxford University, one of the highest regarded higher education institutions in the world, is being criticized for having too few black students. But Oxford's chancellor said increasing the school's diversity could lower its standards.
"I am in favor of universities recognizing their responsibilities for promoting social inclusion but I don't think that if you want high class universities you should expect them to lower their standards in order to make up for some inadequacies in our secondary education system," said Oxford University chancellor Chris Patten, a former conservative politician and one-time Governor of Hong Kong, in an interview with The Telegraph.
Patten continued: "I don’t support quotas at universities. Nobody will explain to me how you can make a system of quotas work while retaining the highest admissions standards. Quotas must mean lower standards. There are better ways of addressing social inclusion at universities."
Patten's remarks come after British Prime Minister David Cameron announced a proposal to increase campus diversity and pointed out Oxford's low rate of accepting black students, as well as poor whites.
“There are currently huge discrepancies in the offers made by universities to students from disadvantaged backgrounds,” Cameron wrote on Great Britain's official government website. “In 2014 just 27 black students entered Oxford University out of an intake of more than 2,500, and only one in 10 of the poorest white working class boys enter higher education.”
But Dr. Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach at Oxford University, said the school is in the process of improving its acceptance rate of “students from neighborhoods with low participation in higher education,” as well as students from different racial backgrounds.
"Since 2010 Oxford has also increased the number of black and minority ethnic candidates accepted. We are strongly committed to our targeted outreach work with BME [black and minority ethnic] applicants and their advisors, which we have recently expanded,” Khan said.