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Universities must do better with diversity

PICTURED: Universities minister Chris Skidmore

THE LACK of diversity at the heart of many of our top academic institutions was again in the news this week.

Universities that admit the fewest black students will be named and shamed for the first time.

The higher education watchdog, the Office for Students (OfS), will publish the ethnicity, gender and socio-economic background of every university’s new intake of students, as well as their degree class.

Universities will now be held to account on how they will improve outcomes for underrepresented students, including those from ethnic minority backgrounds and is part of a drive to “explain or change” ethnic disparities highlighted by the Prime Minister’s Race Disparity Audit website.

We know that while record numbers of African Caribbean students are getting good grades and progressing on to higher education, only 56 per cent of these students achieved a First or 2:1 compared to 80 per cent of their white peers in 2016/2017.

Furthermore, black students are the most likely to drop out of university. And in the higher education workforce, only two per cent of academic staff are from a black and minority ethnic (BAME) background.

In the light of the above can we really be surprised by the ndings of a report released last week which highlighted the discrimination faced by black female professors. The Staying Power report revealed that this group of professors, who make up just 0.1 per cent of all academics, experienced passive bullying, verbal abuse and more. This is truly shocking.

Higher education always held the promise that with hard work and talent, you could look forward to a bright future.

Outcomes should not be determined by your ethnic background. And this is why the Government’s determination to take action on the issue is to be welcomed.

As Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said, let’s hope these measures mark the start of these institutions truly re ecting modern Britain.

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