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Black? Asian? Your Chances Of A First Are Lower Than Your White Student Peers, Report Reveals

01/04/2014 10:47 BST | Updated 01/04/2014 10:59 BST
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Black and Asian students are less likely to achieve a 2:1 or 1st than their white peers, even though they have the same A-level grades, a recent study has revealed.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) published a report detailing a significant link between ethnicity and the likelihood of achieving an upper second or first class degree.

The study, which took into account 130,000 students from universities and colleges around England from 2007-08 to August 2011, showed a "significant variation in degree outcome for students from different ethnicities". Nearly three quarters (72%) of white students who enrolled at university with BBB A-Level grades graduated with a 1st or 2:1, compared with just 56% of Asian and 53% of black students with the same grades.

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The report on the relationship between ethnicity and degree classes follows the viral ‘I, too, am’ campaigns taking place around English universities – a backlash against the casual racism that has become prevalent around some of their campuses.

‘I, too, am Oxford’ and ‘I, too, am King’s’, based at Oxford University and King’s College London respectively, aimed to create discussion and foster the sense of communal disaffection that students of colour have with their universities. A representative of the ‘I, too, am Oxford’ campaign said that the campaign’s aims were to demand "a discussion on race be taken seriously and that real institutional change occur".

Rachel Wenstone, NUS vice-president (Higher Education) commented on the HEFCE report, which was published on 27 March, saying: "An NUS study found that 16% of BME respondents reported that they had experienced racism in their current educational institution and many linked those experiences of racism with a drop in their self-esteem, confidence, motivation and desire to continue their education, reporting that they felt marginalised and socially excluded."

She continued: "This just highlights why it is so important to create inclusive, supportive environments within institutions to make sure that those from diverse backgrounds can flourish. Left unaddressed, these barriers will remain, especially with the ideologically driven cuts that the Government has imposed on education budgets.”