Universities must now publish data on the proportion of ethnic minority applicants who receive places. This announement comes as David Cameron launches a new equality investigation as part of his anti-discrimination agenda.
The Prime Minister summoned education chiefs last week to talk with Business Secretary Sajid David and begin a review into barriers to diversity and achievement at top institutions.
Cameron wants to improve discrimination statistics within education, the armed forces and the courts. He aims for equal opportunities for all through counteracting the problems of under-representation of societal minorities.
The Prime Minister recently discussed research suggesting “black people [are] more likely to be in prison than at a top university”. Oxford University, Cameron’s own institution of study, included only 27 black students out of the 2,500 that were accepted into its 2014 intake and the Prime Minister described the attitudes of univerisities and other institutions as “ingrained, institutional and insidious”.
The establishment of regulations, whereby collections of data would be sub-divided by the applicants course, gender, ethnicity and their socio-economic background is one of Cameron’s ideas to improve conditions.
However, Russell Group director general Wendy Piatt stated that universities “cannot solve this problem alone”. She suggested that schools ought to share in the responsibilty.
In charge of the review release is Labour MP David Lammy, the first black Briton to study a Masters in Law at Harvard. His task is to root out the causes of inequality and lead a sweeping review to show a cause for reform, which will be recommended to the Ministry of Justice in the spring of next year.
At present, a quarter of prisoners in England and Wales belong to black and ethnic minority groups, despite only making up 14% of the population. Downing Street figures state that 61% of black and ethnic minority defendants found guilty in crown courts were given custodial sentences, compared to only 56% of white offenders. Cameron reportedly stated: “I don’t care whether it’s overt, unconscious or institutional – we’ve got to stamp it out”.
Lammy was quoted speaking to Sky News about the planned inquiry. He stated that: “it’s right for the PM to raise the issue of inequality in institutions and universities,” and described the government’s agenda as “a national issue”.
Lammy’s committee is expected to report on its findings in 2017, along with providing recommendation and consultation to address the roots of the issue.