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Why must black students do better than white students to get into university?

16 Feb 2015

New video showcases work being done by researchers at The University of Manchester to understand why black and minority ethnic students still find it harder to get places at university.

Race inequality remains prevalent throughout all areas of higher education, including staffing, admissions and employment, according to a new report by leading UK race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust, featuring the work of researchers at The University of Manchester.

Black and minority ethnic (BME) students must do better than their white peers in order to get into university in the first place, and are still less likely to get into the more prestigious institutions, notwithstanding their A level results.

So, despite an increase of BME students in higher education overall, they are still under-represented at the best universities, less likely to get jobs that match their education level or to progress to professorships.

In fact, 92.39 per cent of professors (15,905) in UK academia are White, and 0.49 per cent (85) are black, with just 17 of those being women. Only 15 black academics in the British university system perform senior management roles.

David Lammy MP, in his foreword for the report, said: “Whether in terms of admissions, attainment, employment, the student experience or indeed staffing, universities still have some way to go to ensure equality for ethnic minorities in Britain.

“So despite the lofty ideals of universities, they do no better – and are in fact doing worse – than many other institutions in British society when it comes to race equality. What, then, can be done? As with other institutions, some of the suggestions supported in this volume are well known: better outreach, better and more transparent data collection, expanding the range of skills and also kinds of knowledge that universities value, and making more use of positive action.”

Dr Omar Khan, Director of the Runnymede Trust, said: “Evidence that white British students with lower A-level results are more likely to get into elite British universities than Asian students with higher A-level results suggests there is unconscious bias, if not positive discrimination, in favour of white university applicants in 2015.

The obvious question, then, is, if these racial inequalities persist across every measurement of outcomes in higher education, will black and minority ethnic students continue to pay £9000 a year for a much poorer experience than their classmates?”

The report, Aiming Higher: Race, Inequality and Diversity in the Academy, is a collection of essays written by leading academics and researchers.