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College enrollment figures in the U.K. reveal the farce of ‘white privilege’

Representation matters, unless you’re white

It’s fashionable for universities in Western countries to grovel about their institutionalized racism (until regulators take them seriously).

While they wail about being bastions of white privilege, these schools rarely acknowledge a severe enrollment deficit among one of those white constituencies: males from low-income families.

The U.K.’s Department for Education recently released demographic information about enrollment in British institutions of higher education. It shows that only 13 percent of “male, white British, free school meals” students go to college by age 19 – half the rate of all students eligible for free school meals, the BBC reports, making them the least likely to attend college.

Indeed, these underprivileged males are “stuck in another era” compared to minority groups in the U.K., where there’s only a five-percentage-point gap between black students (59 percent) and Asian students (64 percent) going to college. As in the U.S, women dominate higher education in the U.K.

One activist for wider access to higher education says the absence of these white students illustrates the low view of diversity in her industry.

Anne-Marie Canning, a former director of social mobility at King’s College London, criticizes the cheap stereotypes colleges use to appeal to white working-class boys, such boxing and other presumed “gritty and male” sports:

There are much deeper issues at play with young white males from “post-industrial towns”, she suggests.

These are places where the confidence, status and identity of communities have been badly dented by changes in jobs and the economy.

She points to the “collapse of local institutions” – whether it’s social clubs, work-based societies, church groups, adult education or trade union organisations, which might once have raised horizons.

The number of universities with “targets for disadvantaged white students” has plummeted from 27 to just four, Graeme Atherton, director of the National Education Opportunities Network, said about his new unpublished research. His previous research showed most of England’s universities have under 5 percent poor white students of both sexes in their enrollment.

Amazingly, the BBC report goes inspecting for privilege among these disadvantaged white males. One of the few white working-class males who recently chose college, John-Russell Barnes, told the news organization that it was easier for men than women to get “better-paid casual labour.”

While he’s hoping to become a lawyer, Barnes said his peers are wary of leaving tight-knit communities to attend college only to find that their career path isn’t available when they graduate.

This is what happens when woke ideology takes over higher education. It focuses on creating a superficial diversity of skin color and “identity” check boxes, recklessly assuming that anyone with pale skin has “privilege” that easily overcomes their far greater obstacles.

MORE: Princeton backtracks on claiming it’s racist after the feds take it seriously

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.