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The rapper Stormzy, whose real name is Michael Omari, seems to have triggered off a wave of enrolments of black and other minority students at the University of Cambridge. In 2018, the grime music star had sponsored two scholarships for black students and later added another two. Apparently, the gesture produced a major knock-on effect, making black school leavers aware that they might stand a chance to be admitted to the elite institution and even succeed there.
Cambridge reported that 91 black first-year graduates had been admitted in 2019, an increase of almost 50% on last year. This raised the overall number of black students at the university to over 200 for the first time. The university recently announced that the share of pupils from state schools also rose to an unprecedented share of 68% and that students coming from the UK’s most educationally deprived areas had risen to a share of 14%, up from 12% the year before.
But not yet is it all singing and dancing regarding inclusion in UK higher education. At Goldsmiths’ College, a constituent part of the University of London, a report on black, Asian and minority (BAME) students has created a controversy. The, rather self-critical, research on racism at Goldsmiths’ had been started by the students’ union, and later been finalised with the help of the university itself. The controversy is not about the report as such, but about a foreword by Mona Mounir of the students’ union. This foreword had first been ‘edited’ by the researcher who finally authored the report, Sofia Akel, and, when Mounir protested, altogether been taken out of the publication. In the foreword, “Mounir described the challenges of undertaking anti-racism work at the south London university and its students’ union”, as the Guardian puts it.