University of Cambridge accepted record number of BAME students in 2020

Students from BAME backgrounds made up 29.3 per cent of UK undergraduates admitted to the University in 2020, compared to 27.8 per cent in 2019

The University of Cambridge accepted a record number of British students from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds in 2020.

Students from BAME backgrounds made up nearly three in 10 (29.3 per cent) UK undergraduates admitted to the university in 2020, up from 27.8 per cent in 2019. This equates to 904 UK-based BAME students being admitted to a degree course in 2020, compared to 738 in 2019.

The overall number of students admitted to the university in 2020 was much higher than normal, following late changes to A-level exams last summer, which, for many students, impacted the grades they received, which then, in turn, impacted the outcome of their university offers.

Professor Graham Virgo, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the university, said to the BBC: “2020 was a challenging year across the higher education sector but I’m happy to say, despite the increase in undergraduate admissions, we were able to admit each student who met the terms of their offer, with no forced deferrals.

“What these statistics show is that we are meeting, or even exceeding, our benchmark targets. It’s encouraging to see the number of BAME students rising again. We have a commitment to seeing more students from underrepresented backgrounds here at Cambridge and this work will continue.”

A record proportion of state school pupils were also accepted into the university this academic year, increasing from 68.7 per cent in 2019 to 70.6 per cent in 2020. This equates to 3,528 state school students being admitted in 2019, which increased to 3,997 in 2020.

Overall, according to the BBC, the proportion of British students coming from “economically disadvantaged areas” rose to 21.6 per cent in 2020, from 19.7 per cent in 2019.

There was a fall in applications from the North East of England and Wales, but as a proportion of students from those regions gaining a place, the university said the success rate was “high”, at 24.6% and 24.8 per cent respectively.

Last week, historian Mary Beard announced she would fund scholarships for two disadvantaged students to study Classics at the university as a “retirement present.”

Grime artist Stormzy also began providing scholarships for Black students at the University of Cambridge in 2018, funding the tuition fees and living costs for two students each year. It led the university to state that the “Stormzy effect” contributed to more Black students being admitted to the institution.

In January, the university announced that students from disadvantaged backgrounds, who fails to meet its entry requirements, will be given a chance to study there on a one-year foundation course, with 50 places available for students who achieve BBB at A-level.

Dr Sam Lucy, director of admissions for the Cambridge colleges, told the BBC that the university was “delighted to see the number of students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds increasing this year, at a time when many of those students have been particularly affected by the pandemic.”

Feature image credit: Matilda Head