Responding to criticism about dismal diversity metrics,
Chris Patten, the chancellor of the University of Oxford, disparaged the concept of racial quotas, as Quartz reported.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Patten said that quotas lower standards:
I am in favour of universities recognising 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.
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 blame high schools, rather than Oxford, for failing to prepare certain students for acceptance into prestigious universities.
Earlier this year, British Prime Minister David Cameron specifically chastised Oxford in public remarks because the university accepts people of colour at significantly lower rates.
“Too many in our country are held back — often invisibly — because of their background or the colour of their skin,” Cameron said in January, citing the fact that a mere 27 black students were admitted among a class of 2,500 for the 2014 school year.
“We must be far more demanding of our institutions, do even more to raise aspirations, and be relentless in the pursuit of creative answers,” he continued.
Oxford’s website notes that “Oxford’s ethnic mix is not dramatically out of line with either the national picture or its peer institutions” and states that 13% of undergraduates admitted to Oxford in 2014 were considered “black and minority ethnic.”
Oxford’s prestige stems from centuries of being considered among the best universities in the world. While the exact date of Oxford’s founding remains unknown, some sources suggest as early as 1096, meaning a millennia of educating students. Times Higher Education ranked it the second best university in the world in its 2015-16 list.
Stephen Hawking, David Cameron, and Cecil Rhodes, the namesake of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, all boast Oxford as their alma maters.
But that honour remains out of reach for many.