White British Students Least Likely to Attend University


A study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) reports that white British students are less likely to go to university compared to their peers from other ethnic groups.

The analysis of 2011 university entrance archives reveals that only 32 percent of white British students went to college compared to 75.5 percent of British Indian students and 67.4 percent of British Chinese students.

The IFS report says that ethnic minority students are more likely to go to university even if they don’t do as well as British students on their high school exams. One key finding in the IFS study is that low socio-economic status Chinese students are 10 percent more likely to attend college or university than their high socio-economic status, white British peers. What is more, white British students from the lowest socio-economic status were the least likely group to attend college among all ethnic groups, the BBC reports.

One in 10 (13 percent) disadvantaged white British students go to college compared to five in 10 (53 percent) British Indian students of the same socio-economic status. For Black Caribbean students, the percentage of poor students continuing their education is 30 percent, The Telegraph says. The report authors Claire Crawford and Ellen Greaves concluded, according to the Daily Mail, that:

“All ethnic minority groups are now, on average, more likely to go to university than their white British peers.”

The authors discovered that Indian students have a 67.4 percent chance of advancing to higher education, double that of their white British peers. Among more than 50 colleges and universities across the UK, students from ethnic minority groups were more likely than their British peers to get into college.

For Black Caribbean students, the chance of going to university were 37.4 percent, but for students of Pakistani descent, the percentage is higher at 44.7 percent. For students of Bangladeshi background, the chances of attending a Higher Education institution is 48.8 percent.

The authors said that secondary education achievement is not a valid predictor for students’ academic future. They explain:

“[P]upils of black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic origin tend to perform worse, on average, in national tests and exams taken at school than their white British counterparts,” yet they have more chances of getting into a college.

The authors state that comparing students from different ethnic backgrounds and the same school performance makes it even harder to pinpoint why students from ethnic minority groups are more likely to attend college, The Guardian says. With school attainment not being a defining factor, the researchers say that other values and circumstances help these minority groups have higher university participation.

Some experts say that lack of aspiration might explain why white British student are less likely to go on to college. In contrast, ethnic minority groups coming from new migrant families tend to have higher aspirations and strong motives to do well in school and pursue further studies, The Telegraph posits.

The Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills commissioned the study. The report can be viewed at the official Institute of Fiscal Studies website.