University to seek help of religious heads to enrol more ethnic minorities The university wants to focus on the “key influencers” behind teenagers’ decisions which, as well as parents and school teachers, can include imams (Photo: SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP via Getty Images).
Radhakrishna N S
A BRITISH university aims to raise the number of applications from the UK’s ethnic minority communities with the support of religious leaders.
Oxford University is aiming to get support from imams to raise the number of ethnic minority candidates to support the youths from ethnic minorities and disadvantaged people.
The university wants to focus on the “key influencers” behind teenagers’ decisions which, as well as parents and school teachers, can include imams.
According to Oxford University Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, the university is working a new scheme with a mission to raise the number of Pakistani and Bangladeshi undergraduates.
Professor Martin Williams, responsible for Oxford’s strategy work on admissions, told The Telegraph that plans are “under development” but will include launching a charm offensive to woo religious leaders.
He said: “We are particularly keen to focus on students of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage.
“We are working on a scheme that would reach out specifically to those communities. We are aware that different approaches work for different communities.
“We have long worked with teachers as influencers for all sorts of students. But for particular communities, we are aware that there are other key influences. I think in a lot of these communities the local imam can be very important in decision-making and obviously parents.”
Students from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds now constitute 22 per cent of Oxford’s undergraduate population.
It is up from 18 per cent last year, according to the latest university admission records.
Black students make up 3.1 per cent of Oxford’s intake, up from 2.6 per cent last year.
Professor Williams further noted: “If you look at the numbers we are admitting compared to the proportion of the population, we have seen big improvements in the number of black Afro-Caribbean students.
“Pakistani and Bangladeshi students really is the group that is now the most underrepresented compared to what you expect. It is a generalisation but these do tend to be relatively underprivileged communities.”
Universities in the UK now have been working heavily to admit more students from deprived households.