Ethnic minorities more likely to regret going to university

Many graduates would also have chosen a different subject or institution in hindsight, study reveals

October 20, 2016

Ethnic minority graduates of English universities are significantly more likely to regret enrolling in higher education, a study reveals.

Analysis of survey responses given by 36,090 English-domiciled graduates, three and a half years after their course finished, revealed that more than one in five (21.5 per cent) would have chosen to do something other than a degree in hindsight.

However, the results for ethnic minority graduates were significantly higher than both the overall average and the figure for white students (19.1 per cent), according to the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Some 36.1 per cent of graduates from a black African background would have chosen something completely different, compared with 34.8 per cent of university leavers from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds. Results for other groups were also above average: Indian (29.7 per cent), black Caribbean (29.4 per cent) and Chinese (26.7 per cent).

Some of the differences can be attributed to other factors, such as employment outcomes that are associated with particular ethnic groups or degree class.

However, even once these were controlled for, significant differences remained: Pakistani and Bangladeshi-origin graduates were 13.7 percentage points more likely than their white counterparts to wish they had chosen something completely different, and the difference for black African graduates was 11.4 percentage points.

The analysis, based on responses to the longitudinal Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey submitted by students who completed their course in 2010-11, also found that 32 per cent of graduates would have chosen a different subject in hindsight, and 20.7 per cent would have chosen a different institution.

Again, dissatisfaction among ethnic minority students was significantly higher, even when other factors were controlled for. Black African students were most dissatisfied, being 9.7 percentage points more likely than white students to say they would have chosen a different subject, and 17.6 percentage points more likely to wish they had opted for a different qualification.

“An implication of the findings is that prospective BME students may need more and better information, advice and guidance to be able to make better decisions about what and where they choose to study,” a Hefce spokeswoman said.

“It could also point to issues around inclusive curricula, learning and teaching practices, a sense of belonging, and differences in social, cultural and economic capital, which have been shown to be important in terms of differential outcomes of higher education study.”

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