ethnic disparity in higher education
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UK government to improve ethnic disparity in higher education

New measures to improve the representation and inequality experienced by Black, Asian and Minority (BAME) students and staff in higher education have been introduced by the government.

As part of their efforts to “explain or change” ethnic disparity in higher education, an announcement was made by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, David Lidington, and the Universities Minister Chris Skidmore on 1 February.

“I am determined that nobody experiences a worse outcome solely on the grounds of their ethnicity. Which is why the Government is making a clear and concerted effort, alongside higher education partners, to tackle these injustices”, stated David Lidington.

I am determined that nobody experiences a worse outcome solely on the grounds of their ethnicity. Which is why the Government is making a clear and concerted effort, alongside higher education partners, to tackle these injustices

– David Lidington

One of these measures includes having all universities publish data on admissions and students’ attainments. These statistics will be divided by ethnicity, socio-economic background and gender categories, and will be used as one of the ways through which The Office of Students will keep track of institutions’ access and participation plans.

According to the data documented by the Race Disparity Unit’s Ethnicity Facts & Figures, 56% of black students attending university achieved a First or a 2:1 in 2016/2017, whilst the figure goes up to 80% for their white counterparts.

BAME research members at universities and professors also experience a lack of representation. Figures collected by The Guardian Graphic 2018 illustrate that among the 14,205 male professors in the UK only 90 are black.

Meanwhile, according to Advance HE’s sources, black female professors only accounted for 25 members of the 19,000 professors in the UK for the 2016/2017 academic year.

As part of the government’s measures, the ethnic disparities at university-level research and teaching will also be addressed.

According to the government website the “UK Research and Innovation is commissioning evidence reviews on challenges for equality and diversity and how they can be addressed”.

They are also “Reviewing the Race Equality Charter” and “Advance HE will look at how the sector charter can best support better outcomes for both ethnic minority staff and students.”

Universities need to reflect modern Britain, and ensure that everyone who has the potential, no matter their background or where they are from can thrive at university

– Universities Minister Chris Skidmore

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore stated that the implementation of the Access and Participation plans would be drawn up for the year 2020-21, stating that: “Universities need to reflect modern Britain, and ensure that everyone who has the potential, no matter their background or where they are from can thrive at university”.

The government also urges league tables makers to present more elaborate information about the socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds of underrepresented minority groups at universities.

Furthermore, the Office for Students will be replacing Unistats with a new website that places more focus on supporting students who are prevented from or less likely to be in higher education due to their personal circumstances.

The Director for Fair Access and Participation from the Office for Students stated that: “We are placing greater demands on universities to close the attainment gaps between ethnic minority students and others”.

“We are also providing greater support for all universities to improve their practice in this area by funding collaborative projects and sharing effective practice.”

The government, similarly, states that it will support and work together with universities and independent ethnic diversity research centres to carry out these action plans.

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