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Race Disparity Audit

Volume 654: debated on Monday 4 February 2019

I am pleased to make this statement jointly with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington).

At the launch of the Race Disparity Audit in October 2017, the Government committed to “explain or change” the ethnic disparities on the audit’s website Ethnicity facts and figures.

Since October 2017 the Government have taken action in education, employment, health, criminal justice, including most recently in October 2018, taking action to see employers adopting fair employment practices which ensure all staff, particularly those from an ethnic minority background, do as well as they are able in terms of recruitment and progression in the workforce.

The audit’s website Ethnicity facts and figures has been continually updated and extended to allow the public to see if ethnic disparities are improving or not across over 160 important areas of public life. This has included the publication of data on undergraduate degree results and entrants at different higher education providers with high, medium and low entry tariffs.

On Friday, the Government announced action to tackle disparities in access to, and successful participation in, higher education for ethnic minority students; and disparities in recruitment and progression for ethnic minority academics. Friday’s announcement aims to tackle challenges that we know are particularly acute for ethnic minority students in higher education, such as their levels of non-continuation, the degree class they achieve compared to their peers, and their progression on to good quality employment.

In addition to the steps already taken to address this, including establishing the Office for Students and legislating for greater transparency and scrutiny through the Higher Education and Research Act, these actions will include:

Asking the Office for Students to ensure higher education providers demonstrate how they are tackling differences in access and successful participation for students from ethnic minorities—the Office for Students will be expected to hold providers to account, in particular through access and participation plans, which set out how higher education providers will improve equality of opportunity for under-represented groups, to access, succeed in and progress from higher education. The Office for Students will be expected to use its new powers to challenge providers failing to make progress.

Asking league table compilers to consider performance on tackling inequalities between ethnic groups in university rankings—working with a wide range of experts, stakeholders and league table compilers.

Encouraging higher education providers to eliminate ethnic disparities in their workforce—using tools such as the race at work charter and race equality charter.

Supporting student choice through better information, advice and guidance—by reforming the Unistats website using evidence from research with students from disadvantaged and underrepresented groups.

Building the evidence base on ‘what works’ for improving ethnic minority access and successful participation—encouraging the winning bidder of the newly established Evidence and Impact Exchange to make improving the evidence around addressing ethnic disparities a priority.

These actions will be supported by the Office for Students in its role as the regulator, Advance HE which will launch a review of its race equality charter, and UKRI which will signal its support for reducing ethnic disparities in research and innovation funding.