White kids are twice as likely to get into top unis than black applicants
Durham academic slams UCAS for not revealing why less ethnic minority students get into Rusell Group unis
Top unis are more likely to give offers to white students than those from ethnic backgrounds.
UCAS, the admissions service, and the Russell Group have met calls to reveal why there appears to be a discrimination against students from black backgrounds, where only 23% of applicants receive an offer from the top tier of universities.
More than half of white teens who applied between 2010 and 2012 received an offer, in comparison to 42% from an Indian background, 31% from Bangladeshi and 30% from Pakistani.
In 2013, Oxford offered places to just 17% of ethnic minority students from over 2,000 applicants. They received almost 9,000 applications from white students, with 25% of them successful. Oxford say they seek to “attract applicants of the highest quality and potential, regardless of background.”
Cambridge offered 23% of potential students from ethnic backgrounds a place.
Dr Vikki Boliver, a sociology lecturer at Durham University, has called for UCAS to explain why this is happening. She said: “Surely admissions data should be accessible so that universities can be held to account for the decisions they make.”
Writing for The Guardian, Boliver said top unis often blame the choice of A-level subjects and university courses for the lack of offers for students from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Boliver called UCAS’s refusal to give independent researchers access to data a “major obstacle”, saying it is against the law for unis to “discriminate against applicants on the grounds such as ethnicity”.
While A-level results for ethnic minorities are often lower when compared to white students, Boliver says that her own research shows there are still differences in offers made to students from different backgrounds even when they achieve the same high grades.
An Equality Challenge Unit spokesperson said better understanding was needed of the system: “The causes and scope of differences in offers to students from different backgrounds are complex and varied.
“We would always suggest that universities are as transparent as possible about their demographics and equality data – not only to aid better understanding, but as part of their public duties under the Equality Act.”
Last year the Russell Group said they were “far from complacent” when it comes to receiving applicants from various backgrounds.
A statement from Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said: “Many good students simply haven’t done the subjects needed for entry – universities need students not only to have good grades, but grades in the right subjects for the course they want to apply for.”
By 2016-17, they intend to spend £36.8 million on outreach activities, and a further £184.4 million on bursaries.
Dr Tessa Stone, Chief Executive of Brightside Trust, a youth employment and education charity, said Russell Group universities pose a risk to social mobility.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph last month she said: “It’s not as simple as just ensuring that the brightest students from non-traditional backgrounds get into the Russell Group and assuming that the playing field will thereby be levelled.”