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29th October 2015

UCAS to implement “name blind” applications to tackle discrimination

In order to tackle racial bias, the British government backs plans by UCAS to implement ‘name blind’ university application forms

In a roundtable meeting at Downing Street discussing the prevention of discrimination in the workplace and education, David Cameron outlined plans to achieve “real equality” by implementing a UCAS procedure by which candidates remove their names from their application forms. The Prime Minister announced the move by UCAS, ahead of the meeting, in a Guardian article.

Explaining the move by UCAS, he wrote: “For all the legislation we have passed, discrimination still persists. It’s no longer signs on doors that say: ‘no blacks allowed’; it’s quieter and more subtle discrimination.”

It has been reported that UCAS will be identifying each applicant by a code. The candidate’s educational background, however, will still be disclosed to the university assessment departments, as this is considered an essential piece of criteria when determining who will receive an offer. Further changes are said to be made to the university application procedures according to the UCAS Chief Executive, Mary Curnock.

She stresses the importance of eradicating the fears harboured by many BME students that their applications are treated with less respect than those of white candidates. “One of the benefits of our unique national admissions service means that it is possible both to identify and address issues of under-representation. UCAS is deeply committed to increasing participation from disadvantaged groups.”

According to UCAS analysis, between 2006 and 2014, entry rates for 18-year-old English state school students of colour increased from 20.9 per cent to 34.3 per cent. David Cameron says Britain needs smarter and “more innovative ways” in order to combat racial discrimination further.

Commenting on the new forms of applications, David Sproul, Chief Executive of the UK consulting and corporate finance firm Deloitte, says: “The introduction of name-blind recruitment processes and school and university-blind interviews will help prevent unconscious bias and ensure that job offers are made on the basis of potential—not ethnicity, gender or past personal circumstance.”

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