News and Events

Black Students Must do Better than White Students to get into University

03 February 2015

Race inequality remains prevalent throughout all areas of higher education, including staffing, admissions and employment, according to a report released by Runnymede.

Watch a short video on the report


Black and minority ethnic (BME) students must do better than their white peers in order to get into university in the first place, and are still less likely to get into the more prestigious institutions, notwithstanding their A level results.

So, despite an increase of BME students in higher education overall, they are still under-represented at the best universities, less likely to get jobs that match their education level or to progress to professorships.

In fact, 92.39 per cent of professors (15,905) in UK academia are White, and 0.49 per cent (85) are black, with just 17 of those being women. Only 15 black academics in the British university system perform senior management roles.

David Lammy MP, who will chair the launch event, said this in his foreword for the report:

“Whether in terms of admissions, attainment, employment, the student experience or indeed staffing, universities still have some way to go to ensure equality for ethnic minorities in Britain.

“So despite the lofty ideals of universities, they do no better – and are in fact doing worse – than many other institutions in British society when it comes to race equality. What, then, can be done? As with other institutions, some of the suggestions supported in this volume are well known: better outreach, better and more transparent data collection, expanding the range of skills and also kinds of knowledge that universities value, and making more use of positive action.”

Dr Omar Khan, Director of the Runnymede Trust, said:

“Evidence that white British students with lower A-level results are 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 favour of white university applicants in 2015.

The obvious question, then, is, if these racial inequalities persist across every measurement of outcomes in higher education, will black and minority ethnic students continue to pay £9000 a year for a much poorer experience than their classmates?”

The report, Aiming Higher: Race, Inequality and Diversity in the Academy, is a collection of essays written by leading academics and researchers, and is released in an event at the House of Commons on Tuesday 3 February 2015.

This report has been covered extensively in the press - see a selection of links as below.


Notes to Editors


1.      For more information and to request an interview, please contact Omar Khan

2.      Runnymede is the UK’s leading independent race equality think tank. We generate intelligence for a multi-ethnic Britain through research, network building, leading debate, and policy engagement.

3.      Download a full copy of the report from our website: Aiming Higher: Race, Inequality and Diversity in the Academy

Help us end racism

As an independently funded charity we rely on the support of generous individuals to continue our work.