Ethnic minority students now make up 28% of places on UK degree courses

Figures come amid calls to diversify university campuses

Just 2 per cent of doctoral students in the UK were from a British Pakistani background in 2020-2021. Getty Images
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More students from ethnic minority backgrounds are studying for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the UK, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) data revealed on Friday.

In total, 28 per cent of UK students were from ethnic minority backgrounds in 2020-2021, one percentage point higher than the previous year.

The proportion of students from ethnic minority backgrounds on taught masters programmes had also gone up, with 27 per cent of masters students coming from black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) backgrounds, compared with 24 per cent the previous year.

In postgraduate research programmes, the proportion of ethnic minority students is just over one in five (23 per cent), a rise of four percentage points on the previous year.

The figures come amid calls to diversify university campuses.

In 2019-2020, just 6 per cent of students overall came from a Black African or Black British African background, and just 4 per cent of postgraduate research students were from a Black African background, compared with 3 per cent the previous year.

Less than 1 per cent of postgraduate research students came from a Black British or Black Caribbean background in 2020-2021.

And just 2 per cent of doctoral students came from a British Pakistani background in 2020-2021, as in 2019-2020.

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More needs to be done to address the inequality which exists within higher education
Universities UK

Earlier in February, data revealed that the proportion of black professors at UK universities has stalled at just 1 per cent.

Figures published by Hesa revealed that just 160 out of 22,855 professors in 2020-2021 were black.

Last year, University and College Union (UCU) general secretary Jo Grady described the pace of change as "glacial", a criticism acknowledged by Universities UK.

"More needs to be done to address the inequality which exists within higher education, which mirrors inequalities evident in wider UK society and which will require an unequivocal commitment to change," a spokesperson for the body said in February.

"We are currently evaluating sector progress against our recommendations from our report on closing the attainment gap in 2019, one of which was that universities must better understand the barriers to postgrad study that students of colour face and put in place measures to support progression into academia."

Updated: February 11, 2022, 12:34 PM
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