Sutton Trust Founder, Sir Peter Lampl. is quoted in an article by Eleanor Busby for the Independent. 

UK university staff should consider spending time in mosques and youth centres across the country to boost the number of students from minority groups, the higher education regulator has said.

Sir Michael Barber, chair of the Office for Students (OfS), has accused UK universities of “passively waiting” for underrepresented students to apply, instead of seeking them out.

Speaking to The Independent in an exclusive interview, Sir Michael said American universities were more active in their efforts to reach students from ethnic minorities and disadvantaged backgrounds than institutions in the UK.

He praised California State University for sending staff to African American churches on Sundays to recruit local black young people that otherwise may not have considered studying at the institution.

Sir Michael believes the Californian model could work in the UK – and he has called for university staff to look at visiting mosques, churches and youth centres.

His comments come after the most selective British universities – including Oxford and Cambridge – have faced growing criticism for recruiting too few applicants from minority groups.

Last month, universities minister Sam Gyimah called Oxford and Cambridge’s failure to take in more students identifying as black and minority ethnic (BME) as “staggering”.

On improving outreach work to ethnic minority groups, Sir Michael said: “I think actually that the churches are in some places very influential, as are the mosques. East London mosque has more worshippers on a Friday than St Paul’s does on a Sunday.”


Sir Peter Lampl, founder of social mobility charity Sutton Trust, said: “Michael is right that many just aren’t doing enough to seek out applications from under-represented groups.

“We know that many local community groups – including mosques, youth centres and churches – have considerable influence over their members. So engaging with them directly should be an effective way to reach these young people.”


Get the the full story or read our latest research on university access.