Oxford professor criticises Cardiff’s lack of working-class students

Cardiff University has been criticised at by a world-leading professor for its low percentage admission of students from working-class backgrounds.

According to Professor Ken Mayhew, economist and Emeritus Professor of Education at Pembroke College, Oxford University, only 20 per cent of students at Cardiff University are from working-class backgrounds.

With only ten per cent more students categorised as ‘working-class’ than Oxford University, Mayhew suggested that fewer students are admitted to prestigious universities including Cardiff.

This is in comparison to Glyndwr University’s figure of 47 per cent of ‘working class’ students.

Mayhew condemned the unequal ratio of students from high and low-income backgrounds at a three-day economic symposium ending on the 14th April.

During his speech, he suggested that the government spend more on further education and shift funding from early years and higher education budgets.

The professor concluded his speech by recommending that the UK take an approach to education similar the Dutch vocational educational system, which compromises over 700 courses ranging from one to four years in duration.

The speech took place as part of a series of talks held by leading economic experts to discuss the economic development of Wales.

Prominent Cardiff businessman Mark Barry also condemned the Cardiff University selection process, taking to social media to voice his support for Mayhew’s comments.

‘The selection process at ‘top’ universities is fundamentally flawed and overlooks too many ‘ordinary students’’, he said.

The condemnation follows statistics published in 2013, revealing that children of professionals are 3.3 times more likely to attend Russell Group universities than working-class students.

Previously, the director-general of the Russell Group blamed the issue on a lack of access for students from working class backgrounds, suggesting that ‘school attainment, advice and aspirations must be dramatically improved is we are to tackle the real barriers to fair access.’

In a controversial move, it was also suggested by politician Peter Brant that students must ‘be taught to think and act like the middle classes if they are to get into the best universities’

However, in a rebuttal against Mayhew’s condemnation of Cardiff University, a spokesperson has stated that the institution ‘recognise the importance of achieving a diverse and talented student community’.

The University stated that a ‘contextual admissions model’ is set in place in order to take into the social background of applicants into account.

The University also reassured Gair Rhydd that the recruitment of ‘students from lower socio-economic groups’ in Cardiff remains similar to levels within other Russell Group institutions.

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  • I’m from a working class background and have completed a BA in English Literature at Cardiff and am currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing. At no point has my background impacted on the education I’ve received from Cardiff Uni.