Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Masterminding Equality

David Lammy writes about the low number of black students at Oxbridge. I think he underestimates the role of the media in perpetuating stereotypes about black academic performance, for example I remember seeing a comedy sketch featuring a black guy on Mastermind who kept giving comically wrong answers to really easy questions.

Seriously though most of his arguments are demolished in the comments so I won't go over every wrong fact and unsafe assumption- although the fact he uses different definitions of "black" for the number of people who apply and the number accepted is telling. The fact that other minority groups are statistically over represented is also interesting.

However one thing that is always worth remembering is that the differences in academic performance are evident from before children even start school, so it isn't obvious how higher education institutions can have proportional numbers of different groups.


Mark said...

A real mish-mash of an article by David Lammy.Some valid points about the impact the new student fee regime could have on social mobility are drowned out by some predictable axe-grinding and political point scoring ('Eighteen millionaires sit around the cabinet table'- a well worn classic).

I'd sooner have seen Lammy tasked with writing a CiF article on the UK's continuing decline down the international league table of educational attainment, part of which happened under his watch as a junior Education minister. The top performing countries overall, incidentally, are South Korea & Finland- and both countries are noted for their ethnic homogeneity. Their elites, unlike ours, don't appear to worry unduly about the under achievement of some immigrant groups, as the numbers in such groups are infinitesimal, and thus lacking in any political clout.

(BTW the 'hideously white' nature of Finland was something Alan Clark remarked upon, wistfully, in his ministerial Diaries.)

James Higham said...

Yeah, it comes down to ability in the end.