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Black students in UK 21 times more likely to have university applications investigated

Universities admissions service "needs to tackle systemic issues of unconscious bias which are hindering talented black students from entering higher education"
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During the investigation process, the fraud and similarity detection looks out for a variety of things – including fake qualifications, plagiarised personal statements and inaccurate information on each students UCAS application.

“42,580 black applicants, meaning that one in every 102 applications was investigated”

The data, published by The Independent, showed 42,580 black applicants, meaning that one in every 102 applications was investigated. During the same period, there were 388,465 white British applications, meaning that one in 2,146 triggered further investigation.

UCAS said it is extremely concerned by the figures released under freedom of information rules and has launched an investigation.

This shocking practice highlights how pervasive institutional racism is across the higher education sector, and UCAS have been unable to justify this discriminatory practice.

“focus more on students’ academic ability”

A Mathematics student stated that UCAS should focus more on students’ academic ability, events like this only highlight racial bias which takes away from the student’s application.

Even though prospective students declare their ethnicity in the forms they submit, UCAS has insisted that ethnicity is not considered during the screening of applications.

“UCAS must urgently investigate this and make clear what steps will be taken to end the racial profiling of students”

Shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner said “UCAS must urgently investigate this and make clear what steps will be taken to end the racial profiling of students”.

The figures come at a time when black students’ experiences of the higher education system have been in the spotlight. Popular artist Stormzy appeared to take matters into his own hands by launching a Cambridge scholarship for students of BAME background so that they are aware of their potential.

A politics undergrad said that it must be really disheartening to have your application investigated after going through a stressful application process.

Since the findings have come to light, Helen Thorne, the director of external relations for UCAS, promised an external audit of the process that will publish data, showing the gender and race of applicants flagged, to the public annually.

There are hopes that this reform will help hold UCAS accountable for how they operate and how they handle future prospective students.

Marvel Kalu

Featured image courtesy of Ian D. Keating via Flickr. Image license here.

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One Comment
  • John Doe
    25 September 2018 at 15:44
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    Surely the solution to any bias is for UCAS to institute a practice of blind review of ANY student’s application? In this way, only merit is considered and we eon’t have a problem of “unconscious bias”.

    This includes removing the name, gender and ethnicity of the individual (perhaps even removing details of school or postcode to prevent searching of local census) to make it a completely blind process.

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