David Cameron ought to learn more (500)

Prime Minister David Cameron made a bad mistake when he accused Oxford University of racism (though he didn’t use that word) two days ago by admitting only one black student in its last intake. It turns out that he was the only black Caribbean in an incomplete list that Cameron had got hold of.

Cameron was doubly wrong—even more seriously—by revealing that he knows very little of the real reason. This can be shown by looking more closely at the almost 4,000 non-white Oxford University students among the total of 16,591. These comprise 1,477 Asians, 1,098 Chinese, 838 of mixed race and 253 blacks. Look at the Chinese number in particular. Conservatively, if we assume that 50% of the Chinese were British Chinese (probably more like 75%) rather than Chinese-born Chinese then the 0.4% Chinese of the UK population produce 3% of the OU intake while the white 85% of the UK population produce 76%—an 8-fold success ratio by the Chinese. Compared with blacks (even if we assume that all the blacks were British), Chinese have an astonishing 500-fold success ratio.

Does this imply that British Chinese are immensely more intelligent than British blacks? Not at all. On Western-style IQ tests, Chinese score only very slightly higher than white Americans or British, while African-American blacks score about the same as white Americans. Three generations ago, black African-Americans used to score very badly on IQ tests but the work of James Flynn and others have shown conclusively that it was the cultural setting of typical IQ test questions that caused this discrepancy. Now that black Americans have acculturated to normal American modes of comprehension and expression they are just as intelligent as whites when measured by IQ tests. We can safely assume that British blacks are just as intelligent as British whites when born.

So why the 500-fold difference at Oxford University? Any teacher of mixed race classes will tell you. British Chinese students overwhelmingly come from secure two-parent families in which both the parents and children are highly motivated towards education. Overwhelmingly, Chinese children are at the top of the class at school (and are less troublesome). This is to be compared with the British-born African and Caribbean black children who come from a high percentage of insecure and unmotivated families. Also, if any more convincing is needed, any neurologist will also tell you that, by the age of puberty, the repertoire of skills, potential intelligence and personality of the individual is then largely fixed for life—whatever the class or ethnicity. No amount of subsequent education can significantly alter this.

David Cameron should redirect his anger away from universities and towards the state system at nursery and primary level because this is where the attempts are made to rectify family deficiencies and where the total life pattern is finally set. In America, despite the disfavour of centralized regularity authorities and the massive opposition of teacher trade unions, the first few experiments in free (charter) schools (often in the most problematical areas of the big cities) are showing evidence of much improved motivation and performance by the children. If Cameron were to encourage this here then, 10-15 years down the line, Oxford University will be admitting far more than 253 black students.

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