At UK institutions of higher education, the academic attainment of White students tends to be higher than that of students from other ethnic groups. The present study confirmed this trend in students who were taking courses by distance learning with the UK’s Open University. It was apparent in students of all ages apart from the youngest, and it was largely independent of their gender, academic background and socioeconomic circumstances, or the particular course being taken. Students’ interactions with teachers and other students are attenuated in distance education, and so the results suggest that the explanation for the attainment gap in ethnic minority students must be sought elsewhere than in the nature of their relationships with teachers and other students.
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