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PM: Time to tear down the barriers at elite universities

The Prime Minister today announced plans to require universities to publish statistical data on admissions by gender, class and ethnic background.

  • Universities will be required to publish admissions and retention data by gender, ethnic background and socio-economic class
  • In 2014 just 27 black students entered Oxford out of 2,500 intake
  • Government announces intention to enshrine the duty in legislation

Under the proposal, all universities will have a new ‘transparency duty’, part of a drive to highlight those institutions failing to improve access.

There are currently huge discrepancies in the offers made by universities to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In 2014 just 27 black students entered Oxford University out of an intake of more than 2,500, and only one in ten of the poorest white working class boys enter higher education.

This new duty will highlight those universities where representation of ethnic minorities and those from disadvantaged groups are low – and help schools, colleges and higher education institutions identify where more work needs to be done.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Too many in our country are held back – often invisibly – because of their background or the colour of their skin.

“We must be far more demanding of our institutions, do even more to raise aspirations and be relentless in the pursuit of creative answers.

“I believe this new transparency duty offers a real chance to help nudge universities into making the right choices and reaching out in the right ways.”

Under the duty, which will be introduced in legislation, wide-ranging data will be published showing the ethnic, gender and socio-economic breakdown for applications, entry, and retention in key disciplines at all higher education institutions.

Analysing this data will help tackle one of the biggest challenges currently in higher education: low entry and poor retention among black groups and white working class boys.

The data for individual institutions will also be available for prospective students to help inform their decisions on applying for university.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“We’re ensuring record numbers of students can get university places but there are still too many people being held back and prevented from fulfilling their potential.

“This new transparency duty will highlight where progress is being made and where institutions could do much more. Only by working together can we tear down barriers and create a genuine level playing field for those with the potential to study at our world-class universities.”

This announcement builds on the Government’s proposals in the Higher Education Green Paper to make more university data available to help widen access and provide prospective students with more information.

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