Understanding the Under-Attainment of Ethnic Minority Students in UK Higher Education: The Known Knowns and the Known Unknowns

Richardson, John T. E. (2018). Understanding the Under-Attainment of Ethnic Minority Students in UK Higher Education: The Known Knowns and the Known Unknowns. In: Arday, Jason and Mirza, Heidi Safia eds. Dismantling Race in Higher Education: Racism, Whiteness and Decolonising the Academy. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 87–102.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-60261-5_5

URL: https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783319602608

Abstract

In UK higher education, differences in academic attainment between White students and ethnic minority students are ubiquitous and have persisted for many years. For instance, it has been known for more than 20 years that the academic attainment of ethnic minority students at the first-degree level is poorer than that of White students. Roughly half of the disparity in attainment between White students and non-White students is attributable to differences in their entry qualifications. Nevertheless, the academic attainment of ethnic minority students remains poorer than that of White students even when the effects of their entry qualifications and other variables have been statistically controlled. An explanation put forward by Ogbu (1978, 1983, 1987) based upon the experiences of people from different ethnic minorities in the US does not fit the UK situation. Any differences in the experience of higher education between White and ethnic minority students are not sufficiently large to explain the dramatic differences in their academic attainment. Researchers have yet to identify the factors that are responsible for the ethnic differences in attainment that remain when differences in entry qualifications have been taken into account.

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