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Oxford uni apologises after calling Lammy ‘bitter’ in tweet

UNIMPRESSED: David Lammy MP

OXFORD UNIVERSITY has apologised to Tottenham MP David Lammy after retweeting a post from a student that called his criticism over the institution “bitter”.

On Wednesday, (May 23) the university released data on the social and ethnic statistics of its student population. Mr Lammy took to Twitter to call it “a bastion of entrenched wealthy upper-class, white, southern privilege”.

“We need systematic change, not more spin and PR exercises,” he said. Lammy then went on to disclose evidence of the inequalities within the education system, pointing out where the academic institution has failed to admit black students.

He wrote: “You are twice as likely to get into @UniofOxford as a white applicant (24%) than a black applicant (12%),” where he demanded answers as to why.

The Oxford student Liam Beadle said that Mr Lammy’s “constant bitter criticism” of the university was “bang out of order”. The post was then retweeted by the university on its official feed.

Ceri Thomas, the director of public affairs at Oxford took responsibility for the retweet and apologised for his actions.

In his tweet, he said: “We agree with you that Oxford needs to do more and criticism of us is no sign of bitterness. There’s been progress, but work to do.”

In response, Lammy accepted the apology by Mr Thomas, but said: “If you really mean this apology, please can you now focus some of your considerable resources on addressing the systematic and institutional failures in your access work and admissions process.”


Baroness Valerie Amos

Lammy's comments come after a statement released by Baroness Valerie Amos revealed the day-to-day racism experienced by BAME staff and students, whilst calling out how universities liked to see themselves as "inclusive and internationalist," however, "not even 1% of UK professors are black."

"As a black person I know how hard it is to explain the pernicious and debilitating impact of day-to-day racism," said Baroness Amos. "Many of us don't talk about it, but that doesn't mean it's not there."

"University leaders need to acknowledge that we are not doing enough," she said.

Professor Charles Egbu, Dean of School of The Built Environment and Architecture at London Southbank University, further emphasised the importance of embracing inclusivity for both teachers and students in higher education.


Charles Egbu

He said: "At LSBU, we take diversity seriously here and I think the reason is beacuse we have what we call a behavorial framework for staff and students and integrity and inclusivity is something we take into account with everything we do."

Prior to his role at the London-based university, Mr Egbu held the Chair in Project Management and Strategic Management in Construction and was Head of Built Environment at the University of Salford in Manchester – where he has worked for 16 years.

Over the years, he has seen strides made to increase inclusivity across British universities - but acknowledges that their is still a long way to go and that implementation needs to be at the top of the agenda.

"When one looks historically, I think it's fair to say in recent years the area of inclusivity is something that has been taken seriously - more now then before. Some of the newer regulations - in particular the 2010 regulations - in this regard have at least brought things to the fore," he said.

"It’s also fair to say that different universities employ different ways and means to tackle this and rightly so. But discrimination in higher education is an important issue and I think this issue should be acknowledged and come right from the top of the university system.

"Senior management need to be clear that this is something that universities don't agree with but it shouldn't stop there - it should go down to the implementation at different levels so that we're not just talking the talk but walking the walk too."

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