More Black school leavers in Herts going to top universities now than a decade ago

Graphic image of a black woman with braids clutching a laptop
Graphic image of a black woman with braids clutching a laptop
The latest figures from the Department for Education show 16.4% of Black students went to top universities last year

The proportion of Black school leavers in Herts going on to study at the UK’s top universities has nearly doubled in the last decade – rising faster than any other ethnicity.

The latest figures from the Department for Education reveal that in the 2019/20 academic year, 16.4% of Black state school students in the area progressed to “high tariff” higher education.

As well as Oxbridge, that includes Russell Group universities, and others with stringent entry requirements.

Within that, national figures show students from African backgrounds are more than twice as likely to go to a top university as those from Caribbean backgrounds.

The figure was up from 11.9% in the previous year, and has increased massively by 95% from just 8.4% of Black pupils in 2009/10.

In comparison, the proportion has gone up by just 24% for White school leavers, 10% for South Asian pupils, and 16% for Mixed-race pupils.

The figures for Chinese pupils and those from other ethnicities are too small to provide reliable estimates.

It means the gap between the proportion of Black and White school leavers going on to the UK’s top universities has reversed.

In 2009/10, 12.6% of White students went on to high tariff higher education, which was much higher than the proportion of Black students at 8.4%.

By 2019/20, however, 15.6% of White pupils progressed to the most selective universities, which was lower than the 16.4% of Black pupils.

Black students are still falling behind other ethnic minorities, however.

Overall, the proportion of Black school leavers going on to any kind of higher education has also been increasing.

In 2019/20, 71.5% of Black pupils in Herts progressed to university or other higher education – up from 67.2% the year before.

That was also up by 28% compared to 2009/10, when 56.0% of Black school leavers went on to higher education – again, the biggest increase out of all ethnicities.

Again, nationally the figure is higher for pupils of Black African heritage than for those of Black Caribbean heritage.

Professor Graeme Atherton, director of the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON), said: “The increase in the numbers of young people progressing to more selective universities in recent years is testament to the efforts of the young people themselves, their teachers and families.

“They have been supported by universities themselves who have invested greater efforts in targeting Black young people achieving well in school via their outreach work and the efforts of charities such as Rare via their Target Oxbridge programme.

“There is still much work to do though if all Black young people with the potential to go onto higher education are able to do so and succeed when they get there.

“Selective universities need to create cultures that can support Black and other ethnic minority young people when they arrive recognising entrenched bias in their curriculum and student support work.

“Universities also need to reach out into communities where Black young people may have not considered higher education as an option and offer them the opportunities to participate in activities which can help them realise their aspirations.”