Candidates’ names will be removed from university application forms to prevent unconscious bias, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
Other measures against discrimination include a pledge by leading graduate employers to name-blind recruitment. The new scheme will be launched from 2017 by the university admissions body UCAS to replace names on application forms with a code, so universities will only judge each candidate based on merit.
UCAS also said it was also keen to boost minority student numbers.
Research suggests that jobseekers with white-sounding names are nearly twice as likely to be called for interview as those with ethnic-sounding ones.
The firms signing up to the new scheme, which also include the NHS and senior civil service, together employ nearly 1.8 million people. Banking giant HSBC, the BBC and accountants Deloitte are among those which will recruit graduates on a “name blind” basis in the future.
“It’s the disappointment of not getting your first choice university place; it’s being passed over for promotion and not knowing why; it’s organisations that recruit in their own image and aren’t confident enough to do something different, like employing a disabled person or a young black man or woman. You won’t change these attitudes simply through more laws, but in smarter, more innovative ways.
“Britain has come so far, but the long march to an equal society isn’t over. Today’s announcement is not the only thing we can do, but it’s a milestone. And it means that a young black woman knows she’ll get a fair shot when she applies for the job of her dreams.”