Assalaamu alaykum warahmatullah,

Had a chance to sit today with part of the committee who is deciding, amongst other things, the UK and US students who are going to be accepted this year. They are literally in the last few days of decision making, and the lists are being presented for final signatures this week, possibly early next week. There are still one or two countries that haven’t been finalised, but I know for example, that Pakistan was completed within the last couple of days and signed off, and that most countries are either done or almost done.

One of the interesting things I picked up on is that they group the applications within one country, according to ethnic background. So, all of the British-Pakistani students are being put in a pile, and all of the British-Somali students in a pile, and so on. They then compete against each other, instead of against the broader range of applicants. So, let’s imagine that in the top 10 for the UK there are 5 students whose parents are of Pakistani origin, only one or two of those top 5 would get accepted, unless they are (a) exceptionally gifted, beyond the normal expectation of students (b) the number of applications from indigenous applicants is less, or the standard is very poor, in which case they might take one or two more.

Will this result in a practical change to the balance of accepted students? maybe, maybe not, since they always talk about doing this, and in the end, the list ends up being quite balanced. Allah knows best.

I did make a point about who you class as indigenous in a country like the US – since I didn’t think there were that many Native Americans who applied…but I think the point was somewhat lost on them, and they basically define indigenous as: doesn’t look like he comes from a Muslim country with a lot of existing applicants.

I’ve said before that nobody should let this kind of thing put them off. Put your application together, apply, and make du’aa. Allah opens doors for people in ways that they could never imagine. We can only work within the system we have, and certainly ethnic background is by no means the only method of deciding between applications, and the university maintains that when they get a really exceptional applicant, they don’t look at ethnic background at all.

I think there’s a difference between getting a balanced list, which is praiseworthy, and being biased against certain ethnic groups, which is not. In shaa Allah, the university is aiming for the first and not the second.

We ask Allah for His tawfeeq,

Wassalaamu alaykum warahmatullah,

Muhammad