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Russell Group Universities Acccused of Bias

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Top British Universities Accused of Bias Against Ethnic Groups and AsiansA recent research conducted by Durham University reveals that the Russell Group universities favour white pupils and those who study at private schools than blacks, Asians and state school pupils with the same A-level grade. As such, the later find it tougher to secure places in the top British universities.

The report authored by Dr Vikki Boliver is slated to be published in June in the prestigious “British Journal of Sociology”.

The Russell Group represents, the UK’s top 24 universities which includes likes of Oxford and Cambridge. For black and Asian applicants, the study says the barrier appeared to be in the admissions process. They were confident enough to apply to these top universities, but were less likely to be offered places than similarly qualified white students. However the analysis on the UCAS data, which included study of application data of these universities for 49,000 students from 1996 to 2006, does not point to the cause behind different patterns of acceptances for different groups.

“This is something that cannot be ignored. We just know there is a problem, we need to know the causes,” said Dr Boliver, adding that it might reflect that the applications process uses predicted grades rather than actual A-level results.

The Russell Group suggests there could be other factors influencing the different outcomes. Although A-level grades between two applicants might appear to be the same, this does not show the range of subjects they have taken. Another factor could be that applications from ethnic minority pupils are disproportionately focused on some of the most over-subscribed and competitive courses, such as medicine which require the highest grades.

“Sadly many good students are simply not getting the right advice and guidance on which advanced-level subjects will qualify them for their chosen course,” said Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group. “Many good students simply haven’t done the subjects needed for entry – universities need students not only to have good grades, but grades in the right subjects for the course they want to apply for,” she added.

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