Topic briefing

Degree attainment: Black, Asian and minority ethnic students

Last updated: 09 November 2021

The issue

There is a significant difference in the proportions of black, Asian and minority ethnic students awarded a good (first or 2:1) undergraduate degree when compared to white students. We refer to this as the degree awarding gap.

In this video two students from Aston University discuss the part they have played in helping address the black, Asian and minority ethnic awarding gap, and suggest what more needs to be done to help close the gap.

Key facts

  1. The degree awarding gap for black, Asian and minority ethnic students varies between different ethnicities and within these broad ethnic groups. It also varies depending on whether a student studies full-time or part-time:

    Student group Full-time gap Part-time gap













  2. Because the gap between black and white students is so significant, we have developed a key performance measure to address this inequality.
  3. Some of the factors contributing to degree awarding gaps are structural such as entry qualification, subject of study or age of students. However, once such factors are taken into account, data shows that there remain significant unexplained differences.
  4. Minimum entry requirements for graduate-level jobs and postgraduate courses are frequently 2:1 or above in an undergraduate degree, meaning that the degree awarding gap may continue to affect black, Asian and minority ethnic students' lives beyond higher education.
  5. As of 31 October 2019, 112 providers with an approved access and participation plan have set targets related to closing the degree awarding gap between their white and black students.


We use the broad groupings of black, Asian and minority ethnic students when analysing the progress of providers in addressing gaps for students with these particular characteristics.

This enables comparison across groups of students particularly where student numbers may be small and where further disaggregation would result in less robust data.

There are other minority ethnic groups who are significantly underrepresented in higher education, such as Gypsy, Roma and Traveller students, who are not always visible in official statistics due to small numbers and the presentation of data using broad ethnicity categories.

Data included here on the degree awarding gap refers to undergraduate degree (otherwise known as first degree) graduates domiciled in the UK, obtaining classified honours degrees from higher education providers in England.

Published 27 July 2020
Last updated 09 November 2021
09 November 2021
Key facts for degree awarding gap for black, Asian and minority ethnic students updated

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