Mature BME and disabled students getting less from their HE experience
Impact on achievement pronounced for disabled students and minority ethnic students over 36
Mature students get less from their university experience if they are disabled or from a minority ethnic group, an analysis of 2011-12 equality data has shown.
ECU’s Equality in higher education: statistical report 2013, which provides an overview of the demographics of staff and students by equality characteristics, also found that staff and students with different backgrounds have different experiences of learning and working in higher education.
David Ruebain, chief executive of ECU, said that the issues raised by the report concern the whole institution and need to be addressed at all levels across the sector.
‘Higher education institutions should recognise that they may not be fully supporting some groups of students or staff to achieve – which could potentially impact on the recruitment and results of students, the development of staff, and the overall reputation of the institution.’
‘Some of the headline findings are no surprise – they reflect ongoing problems that the sector has thus far been unable to address. However, our report reveals interesting differences in staff and student experiences on campus when we analysed the impact of more than one equality characteristic.’
Mature students: attainment gap
- 17.7% – The difference between the proportion of white qualifiers
receiving a first or 2:1 and the proportion of black and minority ethnic
qualifiers receiving a first or 2:1.
There is a persistent gap in the degree attainment for students with different ethnicities, although this has decreased for the second consecutive year.
However, when we analysed the figures closely we found the gap differed widely depending on the age of the student:
- 8.6% – ethnicity attainment gap for students 21 and under.
- 26.3% – ethnicity attainment gap for students 36 and over.
The pattern is repeated for disabled students, although less pronounced:
- 2.5% – disability attainment gap for students 21 and under.
- 6.9% – disability attainment gap for students 36 and over.
A significant drop in the numbers of mature students applying to university has been widely reported. If older students are less likely to receive a good degree, more may decide that going to university isn’t worth their while. It seems clear that more needs to be done to support and retain this group of students.
Senior staff: the impact of race and gender
- 68.8% of senior academic managers are white men
- 15.9% of white male academics are employed at professor level
- 2.8% of black and minority ethnic female academics are employed at professor level
There continue to be low proportions of women and black and minority ethnic staff in professorial or leadership roles. While there has been a decrease in the proportion of professors who are white men from the previous year, the disparity in numbers for other groups is pronounced. The opportunities for black and minority ethnic women seem to be most greatly reduced.
ECU is currently developing a race equality charter mark and a gender equality charter mark which will help institutions to address these issues of underrepresentation for both academic and support staff.
We will be inviting you to take part in a consultation on the structure of the race equality charter mark in January 2014.
Download the report
Hardcopies are also available.