Cameron in Harrogate attacks Oxford’s back admissions record

THE Prime Minister took the opportunity of a visit to North Yorkshire today to attack Oxford University for admitting only one black student last year.

David Cameron made the comment as he attended a PM Direct event in Harrogate with his wife, Samantha.

He was asked about tuition fees and the effect they might have on deterring students from poorer backgrounds.

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Mr Cameron said universities had to adhere to strict rules if they wanted to charge the maximum fee and he said the country’s top institutions needed to attract students from poorer backgrounds.

Speaking at tea and coffee merchants Taylors of Harrogate, he said: “I saw figures the other day that showed that only one black person went to Oxford last year. I think that is disgraceful, we have got to do better than that.

“And I think this system - because you don’t start paying back until you start earning £21,000 - we can help people get to the best universities in the country.”

The Prime Minister said the top universities did not have a good record when it came to admitting students from state schools, claiming the numbers had gone down in the last 20 years.

“That is a terrible record,” he told the audience.

Oxford University hit back at the Prime Minister, saying the figure only referred to UK undergraduates of black Caribbean origin starting courses in 2009/10.

There were an additional 26 students who said they were of black origin, and another 14 of mixed black descent.

The spokeswoman said: “The figure quoted by the Prime Minister is incorrect and highly misleading - it only refers to UK undergraduates of black Caribbean origin for a single year of entry, when in fact that year Oxford admitted 41 UK undergraduates with black backgrounds.

“In that year a full 22% of Oxford’s total student population came from ethnic minority backgrounds.”

The Prime Minister took part in a 40-minute question and answer session with employees at the Harrogate factory.

Light-hearted questions included was he a “biscuit dunker” and how he liked to take his tea.

He also paid tribute to his wife, who accompanied her husband for the first time on a PM Direct event.

The couple held hands as they arrived at the Harrogate factory and took part in a brief tour of the facilities.

Commenting on his wife and family, he said: “We are very lucky, we have three absolutely wonderful children. Our baby Florence is just magnificent, she sleeps through the night, she wakes up in the morning for a feed, she doesn’t make a fuss, she is an incredibly good baby.

“We are incredibly mushy parents at the moment because she is so perfect.”

He described his wife as “brilliant”, adding: “It really is down to Samantha, she has just been fantastic at being able to juggle being a brilliant wife, a fantastic mother and also have a career.”