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Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity

Ethnic inequality in higher education

This work package examines the operations and practices of major institutions in the higher education sector.

As education providers, universities provide a crucial transition point for young people, and they are also a major employer influencing labour markets. However, the sector has been under-researched with regard to the patterning of and mechanisms that generate ethnic inequality. Evidence shows that in the UK ethnic minority young people are more likely to enter Higher Education than their White equivalents (Tatlow 2015), but that they are confronted with entrenched inequality before, during and after their time at university (Alexander and Arday 2015). For example, after controlling for A-Level attainment, ethnic minority students in all groups are less likely than White students to receive an offer from a Russell Group university, and for some groups they are also less likely to get an offer from other universities (Boliver 2016). In addition, there is a degree attainment gap of 18-20% across the sector (Tatlow 2015). Work by CoDE provides evidence of inequalities when graduates enter the labour market (Li 2015), as well as differentials in graduate pay, that have implications for the transition to adulthood. Concerns around these issues are reflected in high profile campaigns on staffing, entry, attainment, the content of curricula and cultural exclusion.

This project examines processes of student and staff recruitment and retention, the career progression of staff, curricula development, the impact of formal and informal learning environments, and student outcomes. In doing so it pays attention to how ethnic inequalities vary across ethnic and religious groups and relate to generation, gender and class.