Claims were made over the weekend that the BBC’s director-general, Mark Thompson, has raised the issue that he was 'disturbed' by the high number of employees who had attended Oxbridge colleges
The Mail on Sunday yesterday claimed that Thompson has privately revealed his concerns that the corporation is employing too many staff from elite universities.Thompson was educated at a leading private school and Oxford University.
Mail on Sunday reported: “In a confidential meeting, Mr Thompson said he was ‘disturbed’ by the high number of employees who had attended Oxbridge colleges.
“According to an MP who was at the meeting, Mr Thompson, who took a first in English at Merton College, said BBC bosses had discussed the academic background of their staff as part of a wider review into the ‘diversity’ of its employees, including their age and gender.
“He said the broadcaster is determined to ensure that a wider range of applicants for jobs are interviewed.”
According to the Sunday tabloid, Thompson’s plans were outlined in a meeting last month with BBC executives and Conservative MP Nadine Dorries.
It quotes Dorries, MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, as s saying: “Mark Thompson said they feel they need to do more to take people from diverse backgrounds, but I said they should be looking at getting the best talent no matter where it comes from. The BBC should be hiring on merit - not discriminating against success."
Former BBC newsreader Peter Sissons is quoted as saying: “Any organisation that doesn’t advance the very best people – regardless of where they were educated – is progressively weakening itself.
“Discriminating against Oxbridge graduates would be another example of the BBC’s deep-rooted political correctness.’
The Mail on Sunday adds:”Many BBC big names studied at Oxford or Cambridge, including Jeremy Paxman and Fiona Bruce, and Mr Thompson’s comments follow controversy over attempts by BBC managers to shed what they perceive as the Corporation’s white, middle- class image.”
It quotes a BBC spokesman as saying there were no plans to introduce quotas ‘to recruit from certain parts of society’.