To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reduce the attainment gap between ethnic minority university students and other university students.
1 April 2021
It is more crucial than ever before that we tap into the brilliant talent that our country has to offer, and make sure that university places are available to all who are qualified by ability and attainment to pursue them and who wish to do so.
All higher education providers wishing to charge higher levels fees must have an access and participation plan agreed by the Office for Students (OfS), the regulator for higher education. These plans set out how they will support students from disadvantaged backgrounds and under-represented groups, including students from ethnic minority backgrounds, to access, participate, and succeed in higher education and to progress from it.
On 11 March the OfS published the access and participation data dashboard, which is used to identify gaps in access, continuation, attainment, and progression at English providers delivering undergraduate provision by different student characteristics. This is available here: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/data-and-analysis/access-and-participation-data-dashboard/.
A breakdown of attainment rates by ethnicity, comparing 2015/16 and 2019/20, is below. (Degree attainment in the 2019/20 academic year may have been affected by the pandemic as many providers adopted no-detriment policies for their students.)
Students achieving a first or upper-second class degree by ethnicity
English higher education providers
Academic years 2015/16 and 2019/20
Percentage achieving a first or upper-second class degree
Source: Office for Students Access and Participation Dashboard
The OfS has set itself and the higher education sector targets to address longstanding inequalities, including to eliminate the gap in degree outcomes between white and black students.
Prior attainment is a key determinant of participation in higher education. This is why we are asking universities to take on a more direct role in raising attainment in schools, reaching out to people from under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds to raise aspirations in schools.