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Access scheme targets black applicants

'Target Oxbridge', a scheme set up by a group of black Oxbridge graduates, has been launched with the aim of increasing the number of black students at Oxford
James Marriott on Friday 11th May 2012
Photograph: Janet McKnight

A team of black Oxbridge graduates has launched a scheme to improve the numbers of African and Caribbean students at the University.

The scheme, called Target Oxbridge, will mentor black students through sixth form and prepare them for the rigorous admissions procedures for Oxford and Cambridge.

Last year only seven black Caribbean students were admitted for undergraduate study at Oxford.

Raphael Mokades, founder of the organisation, explained, “Lots of black kids apply for the most competitive subjects like Law and Economics, when the ratio of applicants is lower for subjects such as Classics and Theology.” He claimed his project hoped to address this imbalance.

Naomi Kellman, an alumnus of Lincoln College, spoke last week at a conference hosted by Oxford discussing the problem of racial prejudice in higher education. She said that she hopes the programme will give black applicants “the help and support that their more privileged and connected counterparts are guaranteed both at home and at school”.

She added, “The scheme aims to make black students aware of the different opportunities and paths to success that the universities offer.”

Mentor Andre Flemmings hopes that mock interviews will be conducted in the impressive Oxford and Cambridge Club in London.

He said that many black students were put off by the universities reputations, arguing that “Oxford and Cambridge have that mystique that's difficult to overcome.'

He also commented that many black potential undergraduates “self-select” themselves out of the process because they lack confidence and do not have a tradition of university attendance in their families.

Hannah Cusworth, the OUSU Vice-President for Access and Academic Affairs, welcomed the scheme. She commented, 'I hope it's a resounding success.'

She added that she hopes the scheme’s emphasis on helping prospective applicants should improve the number of black students both applying and being accepted.

A University spokesperson echoed Cusworth's comments, saying, “We support efforts by groups such as Target Oxbridge to provide students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds with free information and support through the Oxford admissions process.”

However, they also highlighted the university’s own “extensive work” to improve diversity, explaining that the University encourages “bright students from all backgrounds to apply to Oxford and make the most competitive application possible”.

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