​University challenge: Study shows major ethnic imbalance in UK universities

The University of Oxford (Image from wikipedia.org)
There are less than 20 black female professors in British academia, a new report shows, adding further pressure on UK universities to address their gender and racial balances.

The report, produced by the Runnymede Trust, found that 92.4 percent of professors were white, while black professors numbered less than half a percent.

It also found that there were only 17 black female professors, working in the UK, despite rising numbers of female students from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Additionally, the report found that black professors made up less than 15 percent of senior management roles.

The data comes as Britain’s top universities, including Oxford University, are under fire for accepting more white students than those from any other racial background.

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“Evidence that white British students with lower A-level results are much more likely to get into elite British universities than Asian students with higher A-level results suggests there is unconscious bias if not positive discrimination in favor of white university applicants,” said the Runnymede trust’s director, Dr Omar Khan.

“The obvious question is – if the racial inequalities persist across every measurement of outcomes in higher education, will black and ethnic minority students continue to pay £9,000 a year for a much poorer experience than their classmates?”

The report also said that black and ethnic minority students found it harder to get into universities than their classmates, despite having the same grades.

The paper showed that while 52 percent of applications from white pupils to the UK’s top universities resulted in offers, only 44.7 percent of black pupils with the same grades were admitted. Additionally, only 42.6 percent of applications from Bangladeshi pupils to elite institutions were accepted, making them one of the lowest represented minorities in British higher education.

However, the Russell Group, the body that represents the UK’s best research led universities, has refuted the paper, arguing that they have taken steps to address imbalances in gender and race.

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“Ensuring our doors are wide open to able students from all backgrounds really matters to Russell Group universities. That’s why our universities are investing a huge amount of time, effort and resources and developing pioneering schemes to help close the access gap,” director general of the Russell Group, Dr Wendy Piatt, told the Times Educational Supplement.

“Real progress has been made over the past few years: the numbers of black students accepted by Russell Group universities went up 40 percent between 2010 and 2014, and the number of Asian students by 13 percent. But we are keen to see this trend continue further,” she added.