Lessons from London: what it means to have a diverse student body

Universities have been actively trying to increase the diversity of their student body for some time. At one end of the scale lies Oxford, where it was recently revealed that one in three colleges failed to admit a single black student in 2015. At the other end are many institutions in London, which collectively educate the majority of BAME students. Enrolled in the city’s universities are twice as many pupils who were eligible for free school meals as the next best-performing region, the highest number of mature students, and above-average participation by disabled students. But the capital’s success has also contributed to one of its failures: it has the highest drop out rates in the country.

A recent report from the Social Market Foundation observed that nearly one in 10 students in London drop out during their first year of study. It came only weeks after the first teaching excellence framework results, which include a retention measure, showed a clustering of London institutions in the bronze award category. While there has been much debate around how other regions can replicate London’s success in getting students from all backgrounds into university, it is essential that universities elsewhere learn from institutions in the capital about the challenges of keeping them there. Read more