White British pupils ‘least likely to attend university’

Children from all ethnic minority groups – even those statistically associated with academic under-performance – are more like to go to university than their white British peers, research shows.

Research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed that just 32.6 per cent of White British pupils who took their GCSEs in 2008 went on to university at age 18 or 19.

This compared to 67.4 per cent for pupils with an Indian background and 75.7 for those with a Chinese background.

Those from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds also did better than white pupils, with over 37 per cent going on to university.

Among Bangladeshis the figure was 48.8 per cent.

When the researchers combined at ethnic group and socio-economic background, the differences were even more stark.

More than 81 per cent of Chinese pupils from the most affluent backgrounds went to university, compared to just 12.8 per cent of the poorest white British.

The figures were among the findings of a study funded by the Departments of Education and Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The research uses census data linking all pupils going to school in England to all students going to university in the UK, including data on over half a million pupils.

It focused on those taking their GCSEs in 2007-08, who could have gone to university at age 18 in 2010-11 or age 19 in 2011-12.

In an article about the research on the IFS website, the researchers Claire Crawford and Ellen Greaves wrote: “Differences in progression to university between individuals from different ethnic groups were particularly striking.

“We find that school pupils from all ethnic minority backgrounds are now, on average, significantly more likely to go to university than their white British counterparts…

Differences in how well pupils did at school could help to explain “some but not all” of the differences in participartion rates, they said, pointing out that pupils of Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic origin “tended to perform worse” in national tests and exams than their white British counterparts.

The researchers called for more research to be carried out to understand the discrepancy.

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