UK university staff should consider spending time in mosques and youth centres across the country to boost the number of students from minority groups, the higher education regulator has said. The Independent reports
Sir Michael Barber, chair of the Office for Students (OfS), has accused UK universities of “passively waiting” for underrepresented students to apply, instead of seeking them out.
Speaking to The Independent in an exclusive interview, Sir Michael said American universities were more active in their efforts to reach students from ethnic minorities and disadvantaged backgrounds than institutions in the UK.
He praised California State University for sending staff to African American churches on Sundays to recruit local black young people that otherwise may not have considered studying at the institution.
His comments come after the most selective British universities – including Oxford and Cambridge – have faced growing criticism for recruiting too few applicants from minority groups.
On improving outreach work to ethnic minority groups, Sir Michael said: “I think actually that the churches are in some places very influential, as are the mosques. East London mosque has more worshippers on a Friday than St Paul’s does on a Sunday.”
The University of Wolverhampton has partnered up with a youth centre – where white working-class children attend – which has helped raise awareness of higher education among families, he said.
He said: “The ball is in the universities court and they need to prioritise it, they need to be imaginative, they need to be effective in implementation and they need to be out there and taking the lead, not waiting for this to happen.”
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