Universities which fail to improve their record on the number of BME students they admit, as well as other disadvantaged groups such as those from poor households, will be sanctioned by the regulator, which could include financial penalties.
It is one of a raft of Government measures to tackle racial inequality in higher education, announced on Friday at King’s College London by David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister and Chris Skidmore, the universities minister.
There has been an almost 50 per cent increase in the number of black and ethnic minority students in England between 2007 and 2016.
However, just 53 per cent of black students graduated last year with a first class of upper second class degree last year, compared to 78 per cent of white students.
Black students are also up to 50 per cent more likely to drop out of university than their peers. The OfS has set a target for the attainment gap between BME students and their white peers to be closed by 2030.
Three year degrees will ‘not be the norm’
Three-year classroom-based degrees will “certainly not be the norm” in future, the new universities minister has said. In his first speech, Mr Skidmore said degrees need to be “tailored” to the needs of the UK’s workforce.
Speaking at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) he said universities must “face facts”, adding that the Government “invests substantially” in higher education and universities.
“We cannot just sit back on our hands and wait for more progress – especially when there is a clear and urgent need to equip people with the skills this country needs for the future,” he said.
His comments suggest the Government wants to stem the tide of large numbers of graduates progressing into low paid and low skilled jobs, and instead encourage more school leavers into pursuing vocational and technical routes.