Government announces new measures to improve access

The new measures, organised by the Office for Students, will also hold universities to account on how they improve outcomes for under-represented students from all backgrounds.

The government’s Universities Minister, Chris Skidmore, and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster David Lidington have announced new regulations requiring universities to publish a record of their efforts to tackle ethnic inequality in the university admissions.

The new measures, organised by the Office for Students (OfS), will also hold universities to account on how they improve outcomes for underrepresented students.

Amongst the data which universities must now publish publicly are statistics on admissions and attainment, broken down by ethnicity, gender, and socio-economic background. League table providers will also be encouraged to take this data into account in future university rankings.

According to the OfS’ Race Disparity Audit, although record numbers of BAME students are attending university, only 56% achieve a First or 2:1, compared to 80% of their white peers, and that black students were the most likely to drop out of university.

David Lidington said: “I am determined that nobody experiences a worse outcome solely on the grounds of their ethnicity, which is why the Government is making a clear and concerted effort, alongside higher education partners to tackle these injustices.”

Meanwhile Chris Skidmore said: “I fully expect access and participation plans, which universities will be drawing up this year for implementation in 2020-21, to contain ambitious and significant actions to make sure we are seeing material progress in this space in the next few years.

“It is one of my key priorities as the universities minister to ensure that I work with universities to highlight examples of best practice in widening not only access, but also that we redouble our efforts to tackle student dropout rates.”

The Office for Students, which was formed in January last year, has previously threatened Oxford with sanctions if they fail to improve their access outcomes, making them one of just three higher educational institutions to have conditions placed on their registration with the OfS.

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The University was contacted for comment.