THE number of black students attending Oxford University has increased, but figures show that in 12 of its colleges only five or fewer black undergraduates have been recruited over three years.

The proportion of British students from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds admitted to Oxford last year increased to more than a fifth (22.1per cent) - up from 18.3per cent the previous year, statistics show.

More black students with Black African or Black Caribbean heritage (3.2per cent) were awarded places last year - compared to 2.6per cent in 2018, but the number admitted to some Oxford colleges and courses remains low.

Between 2017-2019, there were five or fewer black UK-domiciled students on 13 of Oxford's largest courses.

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Over the three years, there was one UK black student admitted to biology, two for history and politics and none for geography, according to the university's Undergraduate Admissions Report.

In 12 of Oxford's colleges, five or fewer UK black students were recruited over the same period.

The institution had planned to publish its admissions figures earlier this month, but it postponed the release in light of 'world events'.

The death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after pleading for air as a white police officer knelt on his neck, has sparked Black Lives Matter protests around the world.

The movement has increased pressure on universities to decolonise the curriculum, tackle racism and boost diversity on campus.

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At Oriel College, six black UK students were admitted between 2017-2019.

Admission statistics also show that the proportion of British state school students securing a place at Oxford has increased to a record high of 62.3per cent compared to 55.6per cent five years ago.

Admissions of students from the most deprived areas of the UK have increased from 8.6per cent to 12.2per cent.

But still nearly half (49per cent) of UK students admitted to Oxford between 2017 and 2019 came from London and the South East of England.

Professor Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of Oxford University, said: "The data presented clearly demonstrates steady progress towards diversifying the make-up of our student body."

The report also shows applying to Oxford is more competitive than ever, with 23,020 students applying for just 3,300 undergraduate places. In 2019, almost four in five places (2,586) went to UK students.

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