OXFORD University has been criticised after publishing figures showing 'glacial' progress in admitting students from diverse backgrounds. 

More than a quarter of colleges did not admit a single black British student each year between 2015 and 2017.

Eight colleges - Corpus Christi, Balliol, Exeter, Jesus,  Magdalen, New, University and Worcester - admitted two or less black students between 2015 and 2017, the University says.

Figures on the proportion of students from regional, working class and state school backgrounds, and those with disabilities, have also provoked criticism. 

The new report, which will now be published annually following pressure from Labour MP David Lammy - who has been a strong critic of diversity at the University - covers five admission years, from 2013 - 2017.

Over the period, it shows that: 

  • The proportion of students from state schools rose from 56.8 per cent to 58.2 per cent. 
  • The proportion identifying as Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) rose from 13.9 per cent per cent to 17.9 per cent.
  • The proportion from socio-economically disadvantaged areas rose from 6.8 per cent to 10.6 per cent.
  • The proportion from areas of low progression to higher education rose from 9.5 per cent to 12.9 per cent.
  • The proportion declaring a disability rose from 5.6 per cent to 7.7 per cent. 
  • The proportion of female students rose from to 48.4 per cent to 50.1 per cent. 

The data has attracted significant coverage in the national media.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Lammy described progress at the institution as 'glacial' and said the University was 'failing badly'.

He said: "Oxford is lagging behind the Ivy League and Cambridge."

"Oxford is still a bastion of white, middle class, southern privilege.

"You are twice as likely to get in if you are white than black.

Corpus Christi attracted 12 applications from black students and admitted just one in three years - the lowest of any college.

Mr Lammy praised some colleges, including Lady Margaret Hall, and urged others to use foundation years to attract a more diverse student population. 

The University admitted it 'still has more work to do in attracting the most talented students from all backgrounds'. 

However, this morning it retweeted a student who called Mr Lammy's 'constant bitter criticism' 'bang out of order'.

A staff member has since apologised for retweeting the comments.

Other colleges - including Wadham and Lady Margaret Hall, who have been praised for their admissions policies on diversity - have been more receptive to Mr Lammy's stance on social media this morning. 

In a statement, the University said: "Oxford has recognised the report shows it needs to make more progress. The University is today announcing a 50% expansion of its highly-effective UNIQ spring and summer schools, building on their success with students from under-represented backgrounds.

"From next year, UNIQ’s intake will rise from around 850 A-Level state school students to 1,350 a year. Each student gets to spend a week at Oxford, studying their chosen subject, experiencing undergraduate life at first hand and learning how to make the best possible university application."

In a comment piece published in The Times today, Louise Richardson, the vice-chancellor of the University, added: "We cannot alone redress the inequalities in British society but we can address the inequalities in our own student body if we work with parents and teachers to encourage their smartest, most academically motivated students to apply.

"An exceptional student should never be told that Oxford is not for them. There are many brilliant students here from posh private schools and from poor state schools, and both belong. Our interest is in the quality of their minds, not where they came from."

ITV's Political Editor Robert Peston said he was 'embarrassed' to have attended the University. 

Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds said: "Oxford University has done the right thing by releasing these statistics, but they make clear that much more action needs to be taken to ensure thatthe University is genuinely accessible.

"It was particularly worrying to see the lack of substantial progress in admission of Black students and students from the North of England. I hope that this transparency will now lead to further and stronger action."

Emma Turnbull, a former Oxford student, lecturer at Christ Church College and County Councillor for University Parks added: "It struggles to recruit because of wider social and educational inequalities: massive cuts to school budgets, persistent attainment gaps between richer and poorer pupils at state schools, a thriving independent sector that is geared up to getting its students into universities like Oxford. It is not a level playing field long before people think about applying to Oxford.

"It can also do more to reform its admissions process: Make diversity training compulsory, every year, for anyone who is going to be interviewing applicants; make sure contextualised GCSE and A-level scores are consistently available and given weight in the offer-making process; establish more central control of undergraduate admissions."