March 3 2017
With its new summer school program, Oxford University is seeking to increase educational opportunities for one particular underprivileged group: white, working-class males.
This week’s announcement comes after the Office of Fair Access, a British education regulator, instructed universities last month to make this demographic a “strategic priority” in the coming years. Last year, the Office of Fair Access’s director, Les Ebdon, said white male students’ failure to get a college education was “a shocking and avoidable waste of talent.”
A study by the Sutton Trust, an education charity, released last November, found that fewer than one-fourth of the UK’s poor white boys met basic proficiency standards in key subjects. Moreover, it found that just 45 percent of white British students were college-bound.
Poor, white boys were “less likely than anybody else in Britain to go university,” Theresa May recently said. That’s not quite true—Gypsy/Roma students have even poorer college prospects. But standardized tests show that white, working-class students chart lackluster scores, even as their peers in other disadvantaged ethnic groups showed dramatic improvement in academic performance over the past decade.
“We need a more concerted effort with white, working-class boys, in particular,” the Sutton Trust’s chairman said in November.
The Sutton Trust is now partnering with Oxford to recruit white male students from rural and coastal areas for the summer program, giving them “the chance to help realize their potential and experience a taste of Oxford undergraduate life,” the university said in a statement.
Students who participate can take classes by Oxford professors on everything from computer science to ancient history.
In the university’s statement, Oxford’s director of undergraduate admissions and outreach said, “By working intensively with one of the most under-represented groups in higher education, I hope that we can help students realize their potential and encourage high-achieving students from white British socio-economically disadvantaged areas to aim for top universities such as Oxford.”
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.