Table listing potential areas for unconscious/implicit bias in

Potential areas for unconscious/implicit bias in admissions
This table may prove a useful starting point for Recruitment, Admissions and Equality leads within
an HE provider, or relevant working group, to consider together what risks of bias may exist across
the applicant experience, and agree a plan to target appropriate information, training or other
awareness-raising approaches. It may also be used within any internal development to supplement
the materials from ECU with a specifically student recruitment dimension.
HE applicants
HE providers
(and their advisers)
(and their agents)
‘Type’ of HEP – is it for me?
‘Type’ of course
Availability of role models
Negative student stereotypes
Adviser’s historical trends for where their
pupils go – perpetuates/reinforces views
Press coverage
Levels of confidence – readiness to
question/challenge academics
‘Loyalty triggers’ for a good match
Do they count as WP?
Content of marketing materials (perpetuating
Promotion of role models
Assumption, and differing assumptions, of
what constitutes a barrier (vs evidencebased identification, including consultation
with protected groups)
Fear of discrimination
Assumptions over how information will be
used (e.g. disability): possible non-disclosure
Knowledge vs hearsay on suitable choices
Perception of what makes a good personal
Choices selected – may include assumptions
over location
Predicted grades (variation across different
ethnic groups; variation across age groups)
Phrasing of reference – some terminology
may reinforce stereotypes
Acceptances chosen – assumptions over
how aspirational/safe to be, based on
stereotypical perception of where others in a
group they associate themselves with are
seen to get in.
Structure, wording and supporting
information on the application –is it designed
with a certain ‘model’ applicant in mind (e.g.
young, UK-based school-leaver taking A
Transparency around how information is
used - does it encourage disclosure?
Fear of discrimination, or of coming forward,
to ask for support
Lack of personal identification with certain
traits eligible for support
Mixing with other students, including: cultural
differences; inappropriate behaviours;
identification of in groups
Assumptions in selection based on
application (especially around sex, age, race,
school type, convictions, experience)
Assumptions in interview (reinforced by
appearance, accent, confidence)
Interactions in interview (in group affiliation;
confirmation bias)
Type of decision/offer made – have
assumptions been made about the context in
which the applicant has studied?
Unseen costs (e.g. tests, auditions, travel) –
do they deter some applicants?
Provision of support – have assumptions
been made over who does or does not need
transition support?