Bright Students Challenge the Ethnic Minority Myth

Daily Mail (London), December 4, 1998 | Go to article overview

Bright Students Challenge the Ethnic Minority Myth


Byline: STEVE DOUGHTY

TEENAGERS from the ethnic minorities are now twice as likely to go to university or college as their white counterparts, according to a report.

As Asians, blacks and Chinese strive to do well in British society they are flocking into higher education places.

The findings are a 'massive challenge' to the idea that ethnic minority youngsters are academic underachievers and that the poor cannot get into college or university, says sociologist Professor Tariq Modood, of Bristol University.

Educational success goes alongside the 'extraordinary achievements' of black youngsters in making themselves central to British popular culture, declared the professor, who analysed figures from the Government's Higher Education Statistics Agency.

The success of black, Asian and Chinese minority groups is contributing to a process of social and economic improvement which is making them an integral part of society, Professor Modood found. White youngsters aged 18 to 24 make up 93 per cent of their age group overall but only 85.2 per cent of those in higher education.

By contrast, Indians make up 2 per cent of the 18-24 population but 4.7 per cent of those in college or university. Pakistanis are 1.7 per cent of the overall population in the age group but 2.7 per cent of the college population. One in 100 higher education students is Caribbean, against just under one in 100 of those aged 18 to 24.

Professor Modood presented his findings to a conference on social exclusion staged by the Government's Economic and Social Research Council.

He told his audience: 'The good news is that there is an overall trend of progress in the job levels of ethnic minorities and a narrowing of differentials between the ethnic majority and the minorities.

'Despite the persistence of racial discrimination, ethnic minorities are reversing the downward mobility that initially resulted from migration and racial prejudice.' Some minority groups remained 'severely disadvantaged', earning less than their white counterparts and failing to break through to better-paid jobs. But, said the professor, minorities had for two decades been integrating themselves into society.

Most came to Tony Blair's emphasis on 'education, education, education' some years earlier than him and were now reaping the rewards.

At present, the ethnic groups with the least chance of getting into higher education were Caribbean men and Pakistani and Bangladeshi women.

But the professor added: 'The only group which has an under-representation of men and women are whites.

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