Ethnic minority graduates’ employment prospects worsen – study

Black and Asian students fall further behind white classmates after leaving university

August 25, 2016
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The disadvantages faced by university leavers from most ethnic minorities in the job market are getting worse, a study has revealed.

An analysis of graduate outcomes conducted by the Higher Education Funding Council for England found that while 69.2 per cent of students who finished their courses in 2008-09 were in so-called professional jobs three and a half years later, this had decreased to 68.9 per cent for the class of 2010-11.

However, the prospects for English graduates from many ethnic minority groups worsened by a much greater margin, according to data from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education surveys.

Black students fared particularly badly. Graduates from a Caribbean background who finished their course in 2010-11 reported a professional employment rate of 60.9 per cent three and a half years later, compared with 66.8 per cent among 2008-09 finishers.

Only 64.1 per cent of 2010-11 graduates from an African background were in a professional job three and a half years on, compared with 65.9 per cent of those who left two years earlier.

Outcomes for Asian graduates got worse, too, with the long-term professional employment rate declining between the classes of 2008-09 and 2010-11 for students from an Indian background (from 79.1 per cent to 75 per cent); a Bangladeshi background (69.6 per cent to 67.2 per cent) and a Pakistani background (67.9 per cent to 66.8 per cent).

In contrast, the employment rate for white graduates dropped by only 1 percentage point, reaching 77.7 per cent for 2010-11 graduates.

Hefce found that the differences were often even bigger than expected once entry grades, subjects studied and degree results were controlled for. African and Caribbean students were respectively 8.3 and 8.8 percentage points less likely than anticipated to be in a professional job on this measure, while the gap for students from a Pakistani background was 8.5 percentage points, and it was 6.6 percentage points for Bangladeshi graduates.

Les Ebdon, the director of fair access to higher education, described the gaps in outcomes as “shocking”.

“We know that students from most black and minority ethnic groups and those from disadvantaged areas face worse outcomes,” Professor Ebdon said. “This remains the case even when accounting for factors such as entry qualifications, which might affect your future prospects.”

Students from Chinese backgrounds were one of the few groups to report improved employment outcomes. They are now more likely than any other group to be in a professional job three and a half years after graduation: 78.2 per cent of students from Chinese backgrounds who graduated in 2010-11 were in a professional job, compared with 74.6 per cent of their peers who finished two years earlier.

The report, published on 25 August, also finds significant differences in employment outcome by gender and by social class. It finds that while women are more likely to be in work than men, males are consistently about 4.6 percentage points more likely to be in a professional role than females. 

chris.havergal@tesglobal.com

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