Why does University Challenge favour Oxbridge?

Why DOES University Challenge favour Oxbridge? Calls for an end to anomaly allowing both institutions’ colleges to compete individually – ‘excluding people who are less white, less male, less upper middle-class’

University Challenge has long been dominated by Oxford and Cambridge – but then the two institutions are allowed to enter multiple teams. 

Now, however, a star contestant on this year’s BBC quiz show has called for an end to the anomaly that allows their colleges to compete individually. 

Ian Wang, 21, captain of Cambridge’s Corpus Christi team, who will take on Imperial College London in Monday’s final, argues that the current rules ‘tend to exclude people who are less white, less male, less upper middle-class’. 

Oxford and Cambridge are the only two universities allowed to enter the fiendishly difficult show with individual colleges. 

Ian Wang, 21, captain of Cambridge’s Corpus Christi’s University Challenge team

The likes of Durham and York, which also have college systems, are permitted to enter only one team each. 

Since it first aired in 1962 and over 48 series of the show, currently fronted by Jeremy Paxman, Oxford colleges have won 16 and Cambridge colleges have come top 11 times. 

Mr Wang told The Times: ‘There doesn’t seem to be much justification for it, beyond the fact the two universities are seen as special and deserving of special treatment… Oxbridge colleges are, unfortunately, some of the least diverse campuses in the country.’ 

Next week’s final will see Mr Wang, an English student, go head-to-head with Imperial College’s standout performer Brandon Blackwell. Both contestants have entertained television viewers with their breadth of knowledge and animated gestures. 

Jeremy Paxman, University Challenge’s long-term host 

Imperial College’s standout performer Brandon Blackwell’s team is in the series final

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