Ethnic minority students less likely to win a place at university, finds researchCurrent affairsNewsPolitics & Social issues
New research into UK university applications has found that non-mixed minority group candidates are less likely to receive university offers than their white-British counterparts.
The study, conducted by researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of Bristol (UoB) considered 50,000 UCAS applications from the 2008 admission cycle.
One half of the students comprised of white-British applicants, while the other half was made up of students from 14 different black and minority ethnic (BME) groups.
The researchers focused their attention primarily upon figures relating to both BME and white-British student applications, and subsequent offers given by universities.
The analysis showed that BME students were in fact not deterred from applying to higher-status institutions but were less likely to receive university offers in comparison to other applicants, drawing “a picture of ambition among minority ethnic applicants”.
The research found that apart from the problem of ethnicity discouraging students from applying to higher-status universities, social-class and schooling were also creating strong barriers. It also revealed that those from managerial or professional family backgrounds applied at a much higher rate than those who were deemed less privileged.
In respect to university offers, the researchers found that twelve of the fourteen minority groups included in the study experienced lower numbers of successful applications than white-British students, the exceptions being mixed-white and Asian applicants.
Academic and social factors were also accounted for and revealed that on average Pakistani students were seen to receive seven more rejections for every 100 white-British students, while Bangladeshi and black African students received five rejections and black Caribbean youngsters only three.
Results of mixed-ethnic groups, on the other hand, appeared not to display such disparities as BME groups.
Additionally, following consideration of sex, social class and education, it was found that females from upper-class backgrounds who attended independent schools were more likely to receive offers.
Dr Michael Shiner, an associate professor at LSE, involved in the study said: “We know that students from black and minority ethnic groups go to university in good numbers, but our analysis raises concerns about the fairness of the admissions process.”
UoB researcher Tariq Modood commented: “We need universities to do more work with schools to ensure that the process is fair to all.”
In response to the data, director of the Black Training and Enterprise Group, Jeremy Crook remarked: “The research is worrying. There is an element of conscious or unconscious racial bias in the application process. Given these ethnic disparities, UCAS should now consider introducing a nameless application process.”