Ethnic recruitment is 'cavalier'

March 5, 1999

Prestigious London higher education institutions are showing a "cavalier" attitude to ethnic minority recruitment, according to the author of a major study into London skills needs.

The study, to be published next week by the London Training and Enterprise Council, is part of a major "skills audit" of the city's education provision. It will highlight a higher education sector polarised between old and new institutions, with ethnic minority recruitment a low priority among old institutions and specialist schools of higher education.

The report's author, Judith Watson, said that she was "angry" to find that some specialist schools of higher education were being "cavalier about ethnicity data".

The research, by the University of Greenwich, found that many of the old universities and specialist higher education institutions are "not serving Londoners", with consequently low numbers of local ethnic minority students.

As old and specialist institutions focus recruitment on the national and international market, the report found, high numbers of local ethnic minority students and socially disadvantaged students were being excluded from institutions.

"Some institutions are providing for very few Londoners and very low numbers of black people," said the report's lead author, Judith Watson, from the University of Greenwich's Learning Policy Unit.

"Most Londoners are going to new universities," she said.

The polarisation was largely to be expected, but Dr Watson found that some old institutions were complacent about recent national drives to widen participation.

The report calls for a review of the "purpose and operation" of data collection across the different sectors. "There are no reliable data across the whole of the London area for ethnicity," the report found.

Inner London is singled out in a national report from the Careers Service Activity Survey, the report notes, "as an area where ethnic monitoring is poor or non-existent".

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