I welcomed the article on minority ethnic students in higher education ("For some, campus is still another country", August 31). Shedding light on this issue is the first step in addressing the problems. The degree attainment gap between white and minority ethnic students has been well known in higher education for some time. In light of this, my officials carried out additional research on whether ethnicity has an effect on degree attainment over and above other factors such as age, prior attainment or socio-economic background. Our research found that even after controlling for the majority of contributory factors, being from a minority ethnic group (except the "other black", mixed and other groups) was still found to have a statistically significant and negative effect on degree attainment.
We felt that the results of the analysis were clear enough to merit early action, so we asked the Higher Education Academy and the Equality Challenge Unit to lead a project exploring this issue with higher education institutions (supported by Universities UK and GuildHE). The project is due to report next year.
While most students express satisfaction with their higher education experience, it is vital to ensure that every student, regardless of race, has an equal opportunity to succeed.
Minister of State for Higher Education
Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills