From education to employment

Government’s announcement on tackling racial disparities at universities

The Government’s decision to place a stronger emphasis on tackling racial disparities in higher education and for graduates is welcome.

Racial inequality is unacceptable in any part of our society. Its causes are complex and deep-rooted, demanding intelligent and sustained interventions from the early years through to later life in which Government, universities, the regulator, schools, employers, public services and local communities work together.

We hope today’s announcement can signal a renewed partnership in which our universities will continue playing an active and ambitious part.

Russell Group universities run programmes to attract and support BME students and staff, from outreach work with schools to mentoring, reviewing curricula and campus culture and providing targeted support for early career researchers.

While the picture varies across individual universities and for different ethnic groups, recent years have seen important progress.

The proportion of BME students at Russell Group universities has increased significantly to 21% of all entrants in 2017, meaning there is now greater representation of students from BME backgrounds at our universities than in the general young population across the UK.

The gap between BME and White students gaining a 1st, 2:1 or medical or dental degree is five percentage points at our universities compared to 11 percentage points across the rest of the sector and is narrowing over time.

Our universities are working to close this gap and to ensure it does not extend to performance in professional employment following graduation. In fact, graduates from most BME groups at Russell Group universities are more likely to be in professional employment within six months of graduation than their White counterparts.

However, it is clear that serious challenges remain and black students, in particular, continue to be underrepresented. We are determined that our campuses should be open to students of all races and that all BME staff feel valued and have the best possible chance to advance in their careers.

We look forward to working with Government and others as we continue striving to build institutions and communities which are open, inclusive and diverse.

Dr Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive, Russell Group

All statistical references are taken from Russell Group analysis of HESA data for 2016/17

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