We have recently published our strategy for 2022-25, and are now reviewing our key performance measures to make sure they are appropriate for this new strategy.
Key performance measure 4
Gap in degree outcomes (1sts or 2:1s) between white students and black students
17.4 percentage points
In 2020-21, there was a difference of 17.4 percentage points between the proportion of white and black students getting a 1st or 2:1
What does this show?
KPM 4 shows the percentage point gap between the proportions of white and black students receiving a 1st or a 2:1 over time.
We want to focus our efforts on where the need is greatest and where we can have the most impact. Evidence shows that black students receive proportionately fewer 1sts and 2:1s than their white peers. However, this gap has been closing and reduced by almost 10 percentage points between 2010-11 and 2020-21.
The trends differ when 1sts and 2:1s are disaggregated. While the gap in the proportion of 1sts and 2:1s combined has reduced in recent years, the gap for 1sts alone has almost doubled from 11.5pp in 2010-11 to 19.8pp in 2020-21 as can be seen in the chart below.
It has been possible for the gap in 1sts and 2:1s combined to reduce while the gap in 1sts has increased because of the change in rates of 2:1s and the fact more students achieve 2:1s than 1sts. In 2010-11, 15.5 percentage points more white students achieved 2:1s than black students. However, this gap has reduced every subsequent year to the extent that by 2020-21 a larger proportion of black students achieved 2:1s than white students by 2.4 percentage points. As a result, the gap in 1sts and 2:1s combined has shrunk while the gap between proportions of 1sts has increased.
The data for 1sts and 2:1s disaggregated can be found in the datafile associated with this KPM.
While the gap in awarding of 1sts has been increasing, the ratio of white students receiving 1sts compared to black students has shrunk consistently. In 2010-11, white students were 2.97 times more likely to receive a 1st than black students. By 2020-21 this had reduced to 1.94 times as likely. A similar but less pronounced trend has occurred for 2:1s: in 2010-11, white students were 1.41 times more likely to receive a 2:1 than black students but by 2020-21 black students were more likely to receive a 2:1 than white students.
A ratio of 1 would mean that black and white students are equally likely to receive that classification.
Impact of coronavirus pandemic on assessment and classifications
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a number of providers made changes to assessment and classification arrangements to ensure students were not disadvantaged by the impact of the pandemic in 2019-20 and to a lesser extent in 2020-21.
Providers did not adopt a single approach. As a result, the impact of these changes will have varied from provider to provider.
It is not possible to determine the extent to which these actions by providers may have influenced the large reduction in the size of KPM 4 since 2018-19 or the increase in the gap in 1sts.
Between 2018-19 and 2020-21, the attainment rate of black students increased 9.2 percentage points while the attainment rate of white students increased 4.6 percentage points.
This differential increase in attainment rates should not be interpreted as meaning black students specifically received preferential awarding.
Between 2018-19 and 2020-21, students with low tariff entry qualifications experienced the largest increase in attainment rate (there was a 8.0 percentage point increase in attainment rate between these years) while students with high tariff entry qualifications experienced the smallest increase (3.5 percentage point increase).
As can be seen in the chart below, black students are more likely than white students to enter their degree with low tariff entry qualifications while white students are much more likely to enter with high tariff entry qualifications.
Students with low tariff entry qualifications have lower attainment rates than high and medium tariff students so the potential for increase in attainment rate is larger.
Note entry qualification tariff group is based on IPTARGRP, see our access and participation technical documentation for more details. The data used to produce this chart can be found in the KPM 4 datafile. A similar chart related to changes in attainment and disability can be found on our KPM 5 page.
In the future we may change the measure to track rates of success among other groups, if these differences become more significant.
The measure shows degree outcomes by ethnic origin. Specifically the measure shows the percentage point difference in the proportions of white and black students receiving a 1st or a 2:1 over time.
- Frequency: Annual
- Population: Full-time (or apprenticeship) undergraduate degree (first degree and degrees including a postgraduate component) graduates domiciled in the UK, obtaining classified honours degrees from higher education providers in England whose ethnicity is recorded as black or white.
- Data sources: Individual student data from HESA and the Individual Learner Record from ESFA
- Available: March.
Target: To eliminate the unexplained gap in degree outcomes (1sts or 2:1s) between white students and black students by 2024-25, and to eliminate the absolute gap (the gap caused by both structural and unexplained factors) by 2030-31.
Update to include data for academic year 2020-21.
Update to include data for academic year 2019-20 and small change to population used to derive measure (apprenticeship students are now included in the population to fully align with our access and participation data dashboard definitions).
Update to include data for academic year 2018-19.
Update to include data for academic year 2017-18 and change to population used to derive measure (change from England domiciled graduates to UK domiciled graduates).
Last updated 24 March 2022 + show all updates
24 March 2022
- Annual update, additional data on 1sts and 2:1s and ratios
11 March 2021
- Annual update and change to population
15 February 2021
- Availability changed to March
09 September 2020
- Information on the target for this measure
02 April 2020
- Annual update
21 March 2019
- Annual update and change to population used
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