Last year, 14 black male students posed for photos to highlight the racial access gapCambridge ACS

Target Oxbridge, a scheme established to help more black students secure places at Oxbridge, is set to treble in size due to increased backing from both Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

Both universities have upped their funding for the year-long programme designed to provide support for school students who are black or mixed race with black heritage. This includes campus visits, mentoring schemes, an Easter holiday residential course and admissions advice.

The scheme was formed in response to criticism that emerged as a result of the low number of offers made to working class and black applicants, and has seen growing success: in the most recent application cycle, 41% of the students receiving support provided by Target Oxbridge were offered places at Oxford or Cambridge.

Varsity analysis last year showed that 2016’s fresher intake included more black men than Etonians for the first time in Cambridge history.

Director of admissions for the Cambridge colleges, Dr Sam Lucy, told Varsity that funding from Cambridge is set to increase fivefold this year: “This increase in funding reflects the significant growth in interest in the Target Oxbridge scheme; the collegiate University is pleased to be able to provide the financial and substantial in-kind support to enable Target Oxbridge to expand the programme this year.

“We hope that this level of interest from prospective applicants continues, as it is only by encouraging talented students to apply that the figures will improve in overall terms.”

The endorsement is mutually beneficial. Target Oxbridge announced that the increased financial backing would now support 160 funded places for the forthcoming year. The founder, Naomi Kellman, noted its recent success: 35 out of the 86 students enrolled on the 2017 Easter residential course have received offers from Oxford and Cambridge.

She said there was an “unprecedented demand” for positions on the upcoming programme, and welcomed the additional backing.

Racial disparities of those admitted to Cambridge have been a hot topic of debate in recent years.

This week, a satirical proposal by a BME graduate student at Pembroke suggested introducing a role of a ‘White Majority Ethnic’ officer which aimed to criticise the proposed introduction of a BME officer role as patronising.

Last month, Patrick Sylla, a third-year student at Jesus College, posted a video of his freestyle rap video which criticised negative press coverage around the issue which he said discouraged black students from applying.


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Sylla’s video was met with controversy by other BME students, including Cambridge University Afro-Caribbean Society (CUACS) president, Ore Ogunbiyi, who previously wrote an article for Varsity about her experiences of being a black woman at Cambridge.

In October, Labour MP David Lammy has slammed Oxbridge for its admissions statistics which show class and race disparities and encouraged Oxford and Cambridge to centralise their admissions processes.

Last May, 14 black students posed for photos highlighting the low number of black men attending the University, which went viral on Facebook. In 2015, only 15 black male undergraduates joined Cambridge.