Oxford and Cambridge among the top universities 'lacking social diversity'

23 September 2018, 03:33 | Updated: 23 September 2018, 04:42

The highest-rated universities in Britain - including Oxford and Cambridge - are the worst in the country for social diversity, new data shows.

According to figures included in The Sunday Times' latest Good University Guide, the majority of Russell Group institutions are among the least inclusive, with 16 of the bottom 20.

Oxford, Cambridge and St Andrews are the worst of the bunch, with two of them having already been under the spotlight over their diversity figures this year.

Labour MP David Lammy launched a furious attack on Oxford University after a report revealed slow progress on improving access, with just 11% of new undergraduates in 2017 coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The report - released in May - also showed that white British applicants were twice as likely to get a place than their black counterparts.

And in August, grime artist Stormzy launched a scholarship to help black students at Cambridge University pay for their hefty tuition fees.

He said he hoped it would encourage the admission of more black students to top universities, with none having got into some Cambridge University colleges between 2012 and 2016.

Alastair McCall, editor of the Times guide, said the rankings were proof that the top universities still had plenty of work to do to ensure "true diversity in their student intake".

But those who performed best on social diversity had problems of their own, with Glyndwr and London Metropolitan - the top two for inclusion - scoring poorly for dropout rates and graduate employment levels.

De Montfort University in Leicester was said to be the gold standard for academic success and social diversity, coming in at 65th place in the former and 16th in the latter.

Mr McCall said: "It was the clear winner of our inaugural university of the year for social inclusion award for its policies to encourage a diverse student population on campus and then demanding that they go on to achieve as well as is expected of students drawn from more privileged backgrounds.

"It provides a template that many other higher education institutions would do well to follow."

The other awards were taken by Loughbough University, named university of the year, and the University of Nottingham, which took sports university of the year and international university of the year.

The full guide is published in The Sunday Times and at thesundaytimes.co.uk/gooduniversityguide.