UK University Admissions To Be Name-Blind in 2017


Starting in 2017, university applications in Britain will be name-blind in a bid to prevent unconscious racial bias against candidates, Prime Minister David Cameron writes in The Guardian. The British admissions organization, UCAS, welcomed the decision.

The new program will replace candidate names on application forms with a code. However, the educational background of students will still be on the forms because UCAS says it’s an essential criterion for assessing students. Only when the student will be invited for an interview will the university be able to learn the candidate’s name.

Jo Johnson, the universities and science minister, says getting 20% more Black and minority students into higher education is a priority for the government over the next five years. The prime minister cited research showing that top UK universities make university offers to 55% of white applicants but only 23% of black candidates.

The name-blind university applications in UCAS is not the only action taken to reduce racial discrimination in higher education. Top private and state companies hiring graduates have also pledged to implement anonymous recruitment processes, too.

As Cameron notes, the process of getting companies to recruit candidates based on merit is something universities need to emulate. The employers signing the pledge include Teach First, BBC, NHS, HSBC, Deloitte, and KPMG. The BBC’s Judith Burns says these companies are responsible for recruiting 1.8 million people in the UK.

“If you’ve got the grades, the skills and the determination this government will ensure that you can succeed,” Cameron said according to the BBC.

UCAS expressed its motivation to make university admissions fairer. Mary Curnock Cook, UCAS’s chief executive, said that the national admissions model of UCAS makes it easy to identify and tackle candidate underrepresentation, and that:

“UCAS is deeply committed to increasing participation from disadvantaged groups.”

Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK, welcomed Cameron’s decision toward name-blind applications, saying that it is only fair that anyone with the potential can have access to higher education. She added that although there has been a considerable increase in the percentage of minority students accepted in universities, there’s still room for improvement, John Morgan reports in Times Higher Education.

Giving equal access to higher education is part of a wider government plan that Cameron and Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education and Women and Equalities Minister, have put forward. Their plan aims to make the workplace fair for everyone with the potential to be there. Among the plan’s actions are getting private organizations to publish the bonuses that male and female staff receive and to get top companies to abolish all-male boards, Caroline Mortimer writes in The Independent.