Lack of diversity in BBC’s university challenge show causes controversy in the UK

BBC academic quiz University Challenge, which airs on BBC2 is supposed to showcase some of the UK’s greatest minds in the universities. However, recent airings of the show have led many to criticize it, for what they called a lack of diversity on the competing teams.

The show has already run five episodes since it started. however, out of these episodes, the female cast for the show was only 5, compared to males, where there were 35 participants on the university challenge show.

University challenge lack of diversity

This participation does not represent the UK university demographics, where females make up the largest university student block at 57 percent. This raised question on how the show, then could not be representative of what the real raw numbers of the students in the UK were if, in fact, they wanted to reflect the university education in the UK.

That was not the only thing that people noted with the show. In an episode that was aired at 8 pm GMT+2 on BBC2, host Jeremy Paxman introduced an all-male cast for the show. This was not the first time that the participants of the show had been an all-male university challenge competitors, and people were quick to point out that the show was lacking diversity and failing to represent the real demographics of the universities.

Viewers took to Twitter to express their disappointment with the show, creating a #universitychallenge hashtag to express their frustration. 

One user by the name Krista Hammond wrote that in UK universities, 57 percent of attendees were female, and 26 percent of students were BAME students. However, the show had decided to cut all these and failing to meet the diversity displayed across the UK.

Another user cheekily posted a photo of all the participants and echoed words of the host before deducting points, satirically saying that he was sadly deducting the team five marks for lacking diversity.

In its defense, BBC, in a statement said that they were not responsible for selecting the participating teams, indicating that all the teams had been selected by their respective universities. They urged universities to consider diversity when selecting teams to avoid controversy being experienced now across the country. 


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