Two British universities have sought to recruit more white male students after statistics revealed that they were now classed as a “minority group”.
Aston and Essex Universities have become the first non-elite institutions to set an objective in their official recruitment plans to attract white males on the same level as black students and female engineers.
A report from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) revealed that white men are a minority in higher education institutions at approximately 10% of the student population.
The Telegraph revealed that in some courses, such as pharmacy, business and other science degrees, more than seven in 10 students are from ethnic minority backgrounds.
In the 2016-17 academic year, 27% of incoming British undergraduates were white males; a fall from 30% in 2007-08.
Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), told the Mail on Sunday that it was “shocking” to find that “so few higher education institutions had these sorts of targets”.
“The problem is so evident and we’ve continued to go backwards.”
Tackling access to university needs a focus on gender, disadvantage and ethnicity, and it is possible to care about all three of these things simultaneously
– Nick Hillman
He stated that: “Tackling access to university needs a focus on gender, disadvantage and ethnicity, and it is possible to care about all three of these things simultaneously.”
HEPI’s report has called for universities to introduce foundation-year courses in order to provide further insight and encourage more men to apply.
Reports have also revealed that there is a growing gender gap in applicants to higher education.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), released figures in July which highlighted that almost 98,000 more women than men had submitted applications to start a degree in the 2018-19 school year.
Official figures show that 123 out of 149 higher education institutions have more female than male students.
A report conducted by King’s College London in 2016 concluded that in order to achieve equality of opportunity, efforts must be made “to increase white working class boys’ access to [higher education]” by targeting parents to encourage their children to consider further study.
The initiatives at Aston and Essex Universities come after the Office for Students, the higher education regulator, warned universities that they could be fined or deregistered if they fail to improve diversity by admitting more financially disadvantaged, disabled, or black and minority ethnic (BME) students.