Does where students grow up influence where they go to college?

December 5, 2018, Wiley

A new Population, Space and Place study explores how the ethnic composition of where students grow up is linked to where they attend university.

Using detailed administrative data on all 412,000 students attending university in the United Kingdom in 2014-2015 combined with spatial census data from 2011, investigators calculated a "diversity score" for every UK university, which was then compared with the ethnic diversity of the surrounding area. These scores allowed for an analysis of factors influencing whether students move towards more or less ethnically diverse universities than where they have grown up.

The researchers found that are more likely to move towards a university that is more diverse than their home neighbourhood, whereas ethnic minority students tend to stay at universities that have a similar level of diversity to where they have grown up. These contrasting tendencies may shed light on how race is experienced in contemporary university life.

"This research highlights the huge differences between UK universities in terms of the ethnic diversity of these universities. It shows how elite universities in often do not reflect their ethnically diverse surroundings in their largely white intake," said lead author Dr. Sol Gamsu, of the University of Bath. "This research also explores how the ethnic diversity of where students grow up is linked to the of the university they attend." The paper forms part of a wider programme of research funded by the Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC) led by Dr. Michael Donnelly from the University of Bath.

Explore further: Students of all races and ethnicities benefit from ethnically diverse middle schools

More information: Sol Gamsu et al, The spatial dynamics of race in the transition to university: Diverse cities and White campuses in U.K. higher education, Population, Space and Place (2018). DOI: 10.1002/psp.2222

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers engineer a tougher fiber

February 22, 2019

North Carolina State University researchers have developed a fiber that combines the elasticity of rubber with the strength of a metal, resulting in a tougher material that could be incorporated into soft robotics, packaging ...

A quantum magnet with a topological twist

February 22, 2019

Taking their name from an intricate Japanese basket pattern, kagome magnets are thought to have electronic properties that could be valuable for future quantum devices and applications. Theories predict that some electrons ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.