The Significant Gap In Degree Attainment Between White And Bame Students

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The Significant Gap In Degree Attainment Between White And Bame Students

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Table of Content

  1. Background Information
  2. Literature Review
    • The Statistical Differences
    • Factors Explaining the Differences
  3. Creating Equality and Eliminating the Gaps
    • Historical Approaches
    • Possible Solution and Programmes
  4. Conclusion and Recommendations
  5. References
  6. Appendices and Tables


The number of the UK-domicile Black, Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) students undertaking their higher education studies in UK are significantly higher than the white and narrative students in the institutions of higher learning. The population of the UK-domicile BAME students has significantly increased over the last one decade to 18.1% as at 2009 from the 14.9% that was reported in 2003-4 (ECU, 2011). Despite this numeric rise in the number of UK-domicile BAME students seeking degree programmes, substantial differences in the participation pattern exist between the BAME and the whites. In general, a wide gap is observed in the degree attainment between these two groups; the BAME and the Whites.  Other research findings have established that as compared to the white graduates, only a small number of Blacks, Asians, and other Minority Ethnics graduate with second class (upper) and first class honours. A data by ECU (2011) evidenced that only 49.2% of the BAME students undertaking their first degree programmes graduate with either second class (upper division) or first class honour. This is slightly lower than the 66.5 percent of the White first degree graduates who attain first class honour or second class upper (Burton, et al, 2008).

Further research by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE I) established that these degree attainment differences between the BAME and the Whites could, to some extent, be attributed to outstanding differing profiles of these students.

Attempts by the higher education regulatory bodies to reduce this gap and create equality in the education system have not been very fruitful just from the entry level control. Some research findings have outlined term-time working, social, and economic factors as possible explanation for the widening gap in the degree attainment between the BAME and the whites in UK, thereby ruling out the possibility of ethnic bias in the Higher Education System of the UK (Burton, 2008).  For these reasons, this study aims at exploring the contributing factors to the degree attainment gaps between these two groups (BAME and the Whites). This primary aim of this research is to draw out factors behind these gaps in the attainment of degree programmes between the Whites and BAME in UK with the view of determining approaches of improving the performance of the Minorities.

Literature Review

In a report to the HEFCE on the strategic plan of 2006-2011, the Chair to the CBE, Tim Melville-Ross, mentioned that ‘Higher education in this country continues to be recognised throughout the world for the quality of its teaching and research. Its rich diversity is a significant strength in responding to new and varied challenges…..We are committed to working with universities and colleges in tackling the highly entrenched inequalities in access to higher education’ (Melville-Ross, 2008, 23). Although his statement sounded nobler in term of the realization of equality in the higher education system, the process takes more than restricting access and entry into the HE.

The degree attainment gap between the Whites and the BAME students in the UK has been acknowledged by a number of institutions and scholars given its adverse effects on the economic and social atmosphere of the country. Broecke & Nicholls (2007, 78-9), in their ‘Ethnicity and Degree Attainment’ report asserted that even though a significant proportion of the difference and the degree attainment gaps could be attributed to non-ethnic factors (such as gender, disability, deprivation, age, term-time accommodation, subjects, prior attainment, institutional factors), “even after controlling for these other factors, coming from a minor.............

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