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Home Article The role of race in university success: ECU response to HEFCE report

The role of race in university success: ECU response to HEFCE report

Published: 28/03/2014

Study underlines persistent attainment gap

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) today (Friday 28 March 2014) released a study of the achievements of 130,000 students from universities and colleges across England up to August 2011.

The study found that there is significant variation in degree outcome for students from different ethnicities. 72% of white students who entered higher education with A-level grades of BBB gained a first or upper second class degree. This was 56% for Asian students and 53% for Black students entering with the same A-level grades.

Commenting on the report, ECU Chief Executive David Ruebain said:

‘HEFCE’s report underlines something that the HE sector has known for some time – there is a persistent attainment gap for minority ethnic students. ECU and other organisations including the Higher Education Academy have been working with higher education institutions to help understand the complex reasons behind these figures and to identify initiatives that make a difference.

Most recent figures show that the overall ethnicity attainment gap has in fact decreased for two consecutive years, but it is clear that HEIs need to fully acknowledge the issue and commit to improving support so that all students are able to achieve to their potential, whatever their ethnicity.’

Claire Herbert, ECU’s senior policy adviser on race equality said:

‘ECU is currently developing a race equality charter mark, which aims to help address degree attainment and progression. We know two things for certain: students need to be included in any discussions and initiatives which institutions are planning; and there is no magic bullet for tackling this – it requires a multi-pronged, long-term approach.

Some institutions are already looking into the diversity of their curriculum and inclusivity of their pedagogy and assessment. Concious and unconscious biases are also likely to play a key role.’

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