LONDON, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Universities in Britain have been ordered for the first time Friday to publish details of the ethnicity, gender and social background of their students, as part of government's bold drive to tackle inequalities.
The Department for Education (DfE) said the move comes after ethnic disparities were highlighted by in a race disparity audit commissioned by Prime Minister Theresa May to help people achieve their potential, whatever their background and circumstances.
Universities will be held to account on how they will improve outcomes for underrepresented students, including those from ethnic minority backgrounds, through powers of the Office for Students, who will scrutinize university access and participation plans.
League table providers will also be encouraged to give better information on social mobility and underrepresented groups entering higher education, DfE said.
Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said: "Universities need to reflect modern Britain, and ensure that everyone who has the potential, no matter their background or where they are from can thrive at university."
Skidmore said access and participation plans, which universities will be drawing up this year for implementation in 2020-21, should contain ambitious and significant actions to make sure material progress is made in the next few years.
"It cannot be right that ethnic minority students are disproportionately dropping out of university and I want to do more to focus on student experience to help ethnic minority students succeed at university," added Skidmore.
The new measures were announced at an event at King's College, London. The college president, Professor Edward Byrne, said: "Tackling race disparity outcomes is important. I am proud of the diverse international community we have here at King's, in 2017/18, 49 percent of our undergraduates were from Black, Asian and other ethnic minority backgrounds, and we have the fastest growing population of low-income students in the Russell Group of Universities."
Figures from the Race Disparity Audit and the Office for Students show that while record numbers of ethnic minorities are attending university, black students' general academic achievement is lower than their white peers in 2017, and black students are the most likely to drop out of university. In the workforce, only 2 percent of academic staff are black, while white British low-income males remain the least likely to attend higher education.