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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Research Projects

Publication details

Boliver, V. (2016). Exploring ethnic inequalities in admission to Russell Group universities. Sociology 50(2): 247-266.

Author(s) from Durham


This article analyses national university applications and admissions data to explore why ethnic minority applicants to Russell Group universities are less likely to receive offers of admission than comparably qualified white applicants. Contrary to received opinion, the greater tendency of ethnic minorities to choose highly numerically competitive degree subjects only partially accounts for their lower offer rates from Russell Group universities relative to white applicants with the same grades and ‘facilitating subjects’ at A-level. Moreover, ethnic inequalities in the chances of receiving an admissions offer from a Russell Group university are found to be greater in relation to courses where ethnic minorities make up a larger percentage of applicants. This latter finding raises the possibility that some admissions selectors at some Russell Group universities may be unfairly rejecting a proportion of their ethnic minority applicants in an attempt to achieve a more ethnically representative student body.


Published by Sage on behalf of the British Sociological Association

Department of Sociology