White students do better than their Asian and black peers, study finds

Universities wish more students were like Sandra Craig. She has just graduated with a high first in her BA in education at Roehampton University and is of African-Caribbean descent.

A study published this month, based on more than 1.8 million students living in the UK, has discovered a widening gap between the proportion of black and minority ethnic students who achieve firsts and 2:1s and the proportion of white students who do. The Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), an independent charity established to promote equality in higher education, analysed official data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency from 2003-04 to 2007-08 – the latest figures available. It found that in 2003-04, 63.1% of white students obtained a first or 2:1 in their undergraduate degrees. Those described as white ticked a box that defined them as either white British, white Irish, white Scottish, Irish Traveller or of another white background.

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