Black British Students in Higher Education

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SY3042 Research Project Report

Black British Students in Higher Education

Contents

Chapter 1 - Introduction

Chapter 2 – Literature Review

Chapter 3 – Methodology

Bibliography

Chapter 1

How do black British students from London subjectively experience their racial identity when they go to university outside of London? What is the impact of the racial perception of a university when they make choices about which universities to go to and how do they manage their identity once there?

Debates on race and education have highlighted the ways that black British students are excluded from higher education. There is still a lack of ethnic minorities in top universities, despite widening participation schemes and black and ethnic minority students predominately go to new universities which have high representation of black and ethnic minority students.

Looking at ethnic minorities in higher education is important because of the huge disparities between the different minorities entering in the university system, particularly black British students of Caribbean decent. There are many studies on racism in schools and evidence of it still shaping the experience of black and ethnic minority students. Achievement in the education system is differentiated by race and ethnicity and most ethnic minorities compare differently to white British students and it is important to see if these differences continue at a higher level. While Chinese students outperform all racial groups, black British students fare poorly in the education system. The level of black British born students applying and being accepted to university is also an important area to look at, especially as ‘this is a time where in the UK and globally, there is concern about “widening participation” and breaking down the exclusivity of university education (McDonough & Fann, 2007)’. There is also concern with retention and progress as in the UK it has been found that ‘the universities with the most success at widening participation also have the highest drop-out rates’ (Higher Education Funding Council for England [HEFCE], 2006) (Reay, 2010: 107). A number of factors influence this, including concerns about student retention, which are reduced if universities appeal to students who do not have financial problems which lessens the possibility of them dropping out. This also brings class into question, as you cannot study ethnicity and not look at class and how they intersect. The university system has been noted to be segregated on a hierarchical class basis. This is particularly the case with Russell Group universities, which are the top 10 universities in the country. Recent evidence notes it is the ‘most advantaged 20% of young people [who] are still seven times more likely to attend the most selective universities than the 40% most disadvantaged’ (Millburn, 2012:2).

There has been relatively little research published on this area and a complete process of ethnic monitoring was only introduced in the late 1980s (Shiner and Modood 2002 :). According to Law (1996), the reason this focus on ethnic minorities is so late is because of the ‘insularity of universities from local intervention, the myths of academic liberalism, hostility to prescription and arrogance in the face of inequality’ (1996: 179).

This quantitative study aims to look into how black British students from London manage their racial identity when they go to university elsewhere. London is an ethnically and racially diverse city in stark contrast to the cities and places that many good university towns are located. This research explores what happens when black students find themselves in places where the students and locals are predominately white. Does this change the way black students see themselves and manage their racial identity? Do they have to change in any way? In what ways do class and race intersect to...
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