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24th November 2015

White working class children are less likely to attend university than ethnic minorities

A study has shown that white British children are less likely to attend university than other ethnic groups

A recent study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has shown that white British children are less likely to seek higher education than any other ethnic group. The study, further, revealed that out of the social classes, “working class” white children are behind all other classes and ethnic groups, despite outperforming Black Caribbean children academically. However, wealthy white British children are behind every ethnic minority of similar class and academic performance.

The reasons for this have been said to be a lack of aspiration and expectation among white children whereas there is a much higher level of aspiration and expectation among ethnic minorities.

Dr Jonathan Cave suggests that white British children “don’t think university is for them,” as “they don’t think they can pay the costs back,” or that “they don’t want to be three years out of the labour market while others climb the career ladder.”

The study also shows that Chinese children are 75 per cent more likely to attend university than white children. Incidentally, a Bangladeshi child is 48.8 per cent more likely to attend while Pakistani children are 44.7 per cent more likely to attend.

Over the 5 year time period in which the study was conducted, between 2003 and 2005, black and Caribbean children surpassed white British children for the first time, rising from 27 per cent to 41.2 per cent of likelihood of attending university.

“One reason might be that ethnic minority families have higher aspirations for their children,” and so poor white children “are being left behind” according to IFS researcher Claire Crawford.

The figures also show that 13 per cent of the poorest white British children go to university compared to 53 per cent of the poorest Indian children.

In a financial contrast, 55 per cent of the richest white British children attend university. However, Chinese pupils in the lowest economic group are 10 per cent more likely to go to university than the richest white British children.

Students from disadvantaged backgrounds find it harder to find career success after they graduate too, according the research by the Higher Educating Council.

The former Labour Party Work and Pensions secretary, Frank Fielding, said: “The research highlights that white working class families are more chaotic than those of Black Caribbean children and this is having an impact in their early attainment.”

Mr Fielding warned that these findings show us that “the rest of the country is moving away from white working class children. They are in a coach that’s has been detached from the rest of the train.”

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