Two British universities are ramping up efforts to recruit more white male students after plummeting numbers show they are now of “minority group” status on campus.
According to The Telegraph, Aston and Essex Universities are now Britain’s first non-elite institutions to write the controversial effort into their official recruitment plans, which puts white males on par with Black students and female engineering students.
Data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency shows that white British students are the minority at roughly one in 10 universities while over 70 percent of students are a racial or ethnic minority, especially in business, pharmaceutical and other science-based degree programs.
During the 2016-17 school year, about 27 percent of British freshmen were white males, dropping from 30 percent in 2007-08.
Oxford University, considered by many to be the best and most prestigious institution in the nation, announced a similar drive to attract white males from working-class families in May 2017. Still, many of Britain’s elite universities are overrun with white students from wealthy backgrounds while women and students of color remain poorly represented.
Last year, Oxford was slammed after 10 of its 32 colleges failed to admit a single qualified Black student with Advanced Levels, or A–levels, a secondary school qualification in the UK, into their institutions. Parliamentarian and former education minister David Lammy blasted the institution’s lack of effort to boost diversity, calling it “social apartheid.”
“It is utterly unrepresentative of life in modern Britain,” Lammy said at the time.
Aston and Essex’s latest initiative also follows a warning from the Office of Students, which threatened to punish institutions who failed to award a larger proportion of top degrees to Black students, according to The Telegraph.
Yet, a report published by the Higher Education Policy Institute argued that more need to be done to encourage more young white males to apply for college. A growing gender gap, with 23 out of 149 British universities having more female than male students, has also sparked cause for concern. Data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, or UCAS, showed that nearly 98,000 more women than men applied to start programs in the 2018-19 school year.
Moreover, the report called for more foundation year courses aimed at preparing students for higher education.
HEPI director Nick Hillman told Daily Mail the group was “shocked” to see that more institutions weren’t making specific efforts to target white male students.
“The problem is so evident and we’ve continued to go backwards,” Hillman said. “Some people oppose this whole agenda – we were told we were wrong to look at gender and should care only about class.”
There is also the issue of race, with critics fearing that recruitment efforts aimed at white males will draw cries of racism. Hillman brushed off the notion, however, and argued that “tackling access to university needs a focus on gender, disadvantage and ethnicity, and it’s possible to care about all three of these things simultaneously.”
The HEPI said it plans to draft a series of national targets for all universities.