Ucas identifies racial imbalance

June 28, 2002

Young Asian women are overrepresented on courses in medicine while mature, black men are overrepresented in social work courses, according to a study by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

Ucas staff looked at which groups were over or underrepresented in each of four subject areas: medicine, social work, computer science and business management.

Referring to the proportion of medical applicants accepted, Liz Peters, head of analytical studies at Ucas, said: "This cohort are more likely to be female, Asian and very much more likely to be under 21 years old.

"Social work attracts a notable proportion of mature students. Mature social work entrants are more likely to be male, partly or unskilled with non-traditional qualifications, and very much more likely to be black.

"Compared with the subjects considered thus far, computer science ratios are far more evenly distributed. Ethnic minorities are generally well-represented, although blacks are slightly less likely to be accepted than whites or Asians.

"Mature applicants are the most likely to be accepted to business management courses. Plotting mature entrants against their younger counterparts shows that mature business management entrants are more likely to be partly or unskilled with non-traditional qualifications, and very much more likely to be black."

Gaie Davidson-Burnet, head of data and analytical services at Ucas, said:

"If we want to abolish discrimination, we need to take into account entry routes into higher education."

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