Tackling racism in higher education

Black students seeking a university place through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) are 21 times more likely to have their applications investigated regarding suspected false or missing information than white potential students. The Yorkshire Post reports.

Out of the 42,580 black applicants who used the service last year, 419 were investigated for fraud. In contrast, 181 out of 388,465 white British applicants were investigated over the same period.

For black applicants, one in every 102 cases were investigated, for white British students, one in every 2,146 prompted further interrogation

. These findings have prompted deserved alarm and criticism from those in government. Angela Rayner, shadow education secretary, stated: “This shocking practice highlights just how pervasive institutional racism is across the higher education sector. UCAS has been completely unable to justify this discriminatory practice.”

These incidents are not isolated flare-ups, but instead indicative of a discriminatory undercurrent which runs through British higher education.

Helen Thorne, external relations director of UCAS, maintained that “I am not aware of any way really that unconscious bias could creep into this”, but admitted that the organisation is “extremely concerned” about these findings.

This refusing of unconscious bias is something which should sit troublingly with anyone who has been keeping an eye on university news in the last few months, where a series of racial incidents have breached mainstream media. 

In the age of Brexit, with the legitimisation of racialised rhetoric, these stories will only become more pronounced, and these are just the observable symptoms of a deep-rooted toxicity.

Read more Tackling racism in higher education

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