Parliamentary Question on Higher Education Diversity

A Parliamentary Question from Lord Lexden asking the Government how they intend to measure progress towards the achievement of a diverse student body.

Lord Lexden (Conservative)

To ask Her Majesty's Government how they will measure progress towards the achievement of a diverse student body.

Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Conservative)

The Government are committed to ensuring our universities remain open to all people with the ability to succeed in higher education. We are establishing a new framework, with increased responsibility on universities to widen participation.

Each higher education institution will be responsible for advancing equality of opportunity in relation to their student body, and under the Equality Act 2010 will have the ability to take positive action to address identified under-representation.

The student body in higher education has high representation from women and minority ethnic communities. Between 2000-01 and 2009-10, the proportion of female students in English institutions has increased from 56.9 per cent to 58.5 per cent and over the same period the proportion of students from minority ethnic communities has increased from 15.1 per cent to 20.4 per cent. Women and minority ethnic communities have higher participation levels in HE than would be expected by their representation in the population. The proportion of disabled students has increased from 4.9 per cent to 9.0 per cent.

The department will continue to maintain an oversight of diversity trends in the student population.