Equality in Elite Higher Education - A Contradiction in Terms?

The University of Oxford has in recent years come under increased scrutiny over its failure to admit a more diverse intake of students across its subjects. Although the most recent figures show a significant rise in state school offers, the university continues to struggle with a reputation of elitism. It faces in particular the charge of admitting too few underrepresented groups, particularly BME students, those from poorer socio-economic backgrounds and, in some subjects, women. To mark the 40th anniversary of the first women students at St John’s, this panel invites an open discussion about solutions to the challenges that arise from inequality and elitism in Oxford.

Anne-Marie Canning MBE is the incoming CEO of the Brilliant Club, non-profit organisation which aims to widen access to university for students from underrepresented groups. Anne-Marie was the Director of Social Mobility and Student Success at King’s College London between 2012 and 2019. She has served as a member of the Universities UK Ministerial Social Mobility Advisory Group and as the elected Chair of the Russell Group Widening Participation Association.

Danny Dorling is the Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment. Before joining Oxford in 2013, he worked at the University of Sheffield. Danny’s books are primarily concerned with social inequality. They include Inequality and the 1% (2014; 2019, Verso) and the forthcoming Slowdown: The End of the Great Acceleration-and Why It’s Good for the Planet, the Economy, and Our Lives (2020, Yale).

Will Hutton is a political economist, author and columnist who has since 2011 acted as the Principal of Hertford College. Will chaired the Independent Review on University fees between 2011 and 2014 and was the longstanding editor of the Observer, for which he still writes a regular column. He has authored a large number of books, including How Good We Can Be: Ending the Mercenary Society and Building a Great Country (2015, Little, Brown).

Samina Khan is director of Admissions and Outreach at the University of Oxford. Prior to joining Oxford, Samina worked in the commercial, public and third sectors for a range of education related organisations. She has developed and implemented national policies on education and training for the Department of Education and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. Samina has also represented the Examination Boards nationally as a Director for the Federation of Awarding Bodies and as a member of the Joint Council of Qualifications.

All welcome