Candidates’ names will be removed from university application forms from 2017, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
The move is part of a plan to prevent unconscious bias against candidates from minority groups, said Mr Cameron, writing in the Guardian newspaper.
Other measures against discrimination include a pledge by leading graduate employers to name-blind recruitment, the Prime Minister has announced.
The admissions body UCAS said it was keen to boost minority student numbers.
The prime minister set out the measures at a Downing Street round table on Monday.
Leading graduate employers from across the public and private sector have committed to keeping candidates’ names off graduate recruitment applications, says Downing Street.
These include the Civil Service, Teach First, the BBC, NHS and local government as well as top city names such as HSBC, Virgin Money, KPMG and Deloitte.
Together they are responsible for employing 1.8m people in the UK.
“I said in my conference speech that I want us to end discrimination and finish the fight for real equality in our country today,” said Mr Cameron. “Today we are delivering on that commitment and extending opportunity to all.
“If you’ve got the grades, the skills and the determination this government will ensure that you can succeed.”
The discussions at Downing Street will include representatives from leading financial employers as well as the Civil Service, BBC and NHS.
Civil Service chief executive John Manzoni said it was “vital” for his organisation to take the lead.
“I’m confident that this important step will help us build an organisation that is even more talented, diverse and effective than it is today,” he explained.
The financial services firm Deloitte recently became one of a number of leading firms to change its selection process so that recruiters do not know where candidates went to school or university, in a bid to ensure a diverse talent pool which reflects the make-up of society.
Chief Executive David Sproul said name-blind applications would, in addition, help “ensure that job offers are made on the basis of potential, not ethnicity, gender or past personal circumstance”.
UCAS chief executive, Mary Curnock Cook, said it would consult with degree-awarding institutions on name-blind applications “as well as a wider range of changes which could impact applications from black and ethnic minority students”.
She added: “UCAS is deeply committed to increasing participation from disadvantaged groups.”
The admissions body said its own research helped it identify issues of under-representation at UK universities and colleges.
A study of 2008 admissions data by the London School of Economics suggested ethnic minority students were less likely to get university offers – but UCAS says the proportion of ethnic minority students applying to university has risen since then.
Its analysis of the 2014 admissions cycle showed university entry rates for 18-year-olds in minority groups outstripped those for white teenagers.
Among white 18-year-olds some 27.2% entered university in 2014, compared with 38.7% of Asians and 34.3% of black teenagers, the document suggests.
Copyright © 2015 BBC
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