Data to highlight inequality

November 26, 1999

Universities and colleges that unwittingly discriminate against students from poorer backgrounds will be named and shamed by official performance indicators published next week, writes Alison Goddard.

Institutions that take a small proportion of students from the lower socioeconomic groups, given the subject mix offered and the entry grades demanded, will be identified by data published by the funding councils. The tables are expected to embarrass some elite universities, which are understood to perform badly even when these factors are taken into account.

The government has told the Higher Education Funding Council for England that it must also produce performance indicators for employability of graduates.

However, the unemployment rate measured by the first destination survey only identifies transitional difficulties - most graduates are in a "graduate job" three-and-a-half years after graduation - according to research by Abigail McKnight of the University of Warwick for the Department for Education and Employment.

Five performance indicators will be published for each institution covering widening participation; student progression; learning outcomes; efficiency; and research.

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