The experiences of South Asian university students in the British education system and in their search for work
This research aimed to provide a comparative analysis of South Asian and White British students in their academic attainment at school and university and in their search for employment. Data were gathered by using a variety of methodological techniques. Completed postal questionnaires were received from 301 South Asian and White British undergraduates from 12 British universities, who were in their final year of study in 1985. In depth interviews were also conducted with 49 graduates who were a self selected group from the original sample. Additional information was also collected by using diary report forms and by administering a second postal questionnaire to selected South Asian and White British participants. It was found that while the pre-university qualifications of the White British and South Asian undergraduates did not differ considerably, many members in the latter group had travelled a more arduous path to academic success. For some South Asians, school experiences included the confrontation of racist attitudes and behaviour, both from teachers and peers. The South Asian respondents in this study were more likely than their White British counterparts, to have attempted some C.S.E. examinations, obtained some of their `O' levels in the Sixth Form and retaken their `A' levels. As a result the South Asians were on average older than their White British peers when entering university. A small sample of South Asians also found that the effects of racism were perpetuated in higher education where they faced difficulty both academically and socially. Overall, however, since going to university most South Asians felt further drawn towards their `cultural background', this often being their own unique view of `Asianess'. Regarding their plans after graduation, it was found that South Asians were more likely to opt for further study, believing that they needed to be better qualified than their White British counterparts. For those South Asians who were searching for work, it was noted that they were better qualified, willing to accept a lower minimum salary, had made more job applications and had started searching for work earlier than the comparable White British participants. Also, although generally they were not having difficulty in obtaining interviews, South Asian applicants were less likely to receive an offer of employment. In the final analysis examining their future plans, it was found that a large proportion of South Asian graduates were aspiring towards self employment.