April 2013 sees 20 years since the death of teenager Stephen Lawrence. The question that many of my peers ask is, has anything changed? What is life really like for young black and ethnic minority people in Britain today?
The percentage of black students going to any of the 24 Russell Group universities continues to be significantly lower than that of other UK universities and most universities have seen a significant drop in intake due to the removal of EMA and the introduction of tuition fees. This has had a detrimental effect on students deciding whether or not to persue further and higher education.
I returned to university after 10 years as like many mothers, you have to remain competitive and skilled. The Office of National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey and the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s ‘HESA Student Record’, the report, ‘Race into Higher Education’, identified that almost one in six (16.0%) of UK university students are from a Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background. This is in line with the growth in the BAME population from 7.7% of 18 to 24 year olds in 1995-96 up to 14% in 2007-08.
I decided to attend my local London University in the summer of 2012, only to meet a students demonstration as they had just their license revoked affecting all overseas students. They were stripped of their right to teach all non-European Union foreign students after the Border Agency said it failed to comply with visa rules. Students were given 60 days to find alternative courses or be forcibly removed from the UK.
Source: Independent, Friday 31st August 2012
In January 2013 the UK Border Agency wrote to all the overseas students affected to let them know that their place at London Metropolitan University had been confirmed. This was however too late for around 1,000 of the students affected who have now graduated or completed their course. But of the 1,385 remaining students who were given the option to remain at London Met only 626 chose to do so.
London Met still remains an attractive option for ethnic minority students, with “more Afro-Caribbean students at London Metropolitan University than at the whole Russell Group combined,” according to Nick Johnson, the then Commission for Racial Equality‘s director of policy in 2007. This is also due to the failure of elite research-led universities opening their doors to ethnic minority students.
The issue that many ethnic minority students face once they graduate is the lack of job opportunities. Youth unemployment stands at 44% for BME men aged 18-24. I spoke to Chukka Umanna MP about this and asked what he had to say to this demographic.
He encourages young people to attend higher education and apply for eilte universities, but he also wants to see more students considering apprentices as the UK economny is reliant on the core skills derived from them.
I also interviewed Sue Barton, show sits on the board of Welsh University to ask what experiences her students have.