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Scholarships: Ethnic Groups

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL3042, tabled on 12 October 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to provide funding for scholarships for those wanting to study subjects in which black students are under-represented.

Answered on

25 October 2021

Ensuring equality of opportunity for talented young people across the country is one of this government’s highest priorities.

The previous government brought forward sweeping reforms of higher education (HE) through the Higher Education and Research Act 2017 (HERA) to tackle equality of opportunity. This includes the Transparency Duty, which will for the first time require all universities to publish applications, offers and acceptance rates broken down by gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background.

On 11 March 2021 the Office for Students (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, available at:

All HE providers wanting to charge higher level fees must have an Access and Participation Plan agreed by the OfS, in which they set out the measures they intend to take to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds and under-represented groups to access and succeed in higher education.

In the 2021-22 academic year, providers have committed over £202 million to access activity. Through access and participation plans, providers are delivering a range of interventions aimed at improving access, progression and continuation rates for under-represented groups, including additional financial support through bursaries and scholarships. For example, Durham University this year launched their ‘Durham Inspired’ scholarship programme for Black students:

In 2019 the government announced £13.5 million of funding for up to 2,500 new places for AI and data science conversion courses, including up to 1,000 government-funded scholarships. These scholarships are prioritised for Black, Female and Disabled students and are based across 28 Universities across England. In the first year alone over 1,300 students have enrolled, with a total of 210 scholarships awarded to date. Of the scholarships awarded, 40% have been awarded to Black students.

We recognise there is still more to be done, including ensuring that students are accessing high quality courses which have real labour market demand and lead them into skilled employment. In our latest strategic guidance to the OfS we asked them to urge providers to do more to ensure that all students, particularly those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, are recruited on to courses that will deliver good outcomes.