The University of Warwick yesterday refuted suggestions that its admissions policy has a "racial bias" against people from ethnic backgrounds.
The university is one of a number being looked at by the Commission for Racial Equality in the light of recent Government statistics on student make-up.
The figures show Warwick - one of 19 elite universities including Oxford and Cambridge that are part of the Russell Group- has a below average intake of black and Asian undergraduates.
Ethnic minorities constitute 13.5 per cent of the student population, compared to a national average of 15.3 per cent for universities in England.
Most of those are of Asian origin, with only 1.6 per cent from African and Caribbean backgrounds - an under-representation reflected at universities across the country.
Of the nine universities in the West Midlands, only the rural universities of Stafford-shire and University College Worcester had a lower proportion of ethnic students.
A spokesman for Warwick said: "The University of Warwick recruits from every part of the planet and on ability alone.
"Ucas removes all reference to race or ethnic background before it passes applications to us. This removes any possibility of racial bias in our recruitment process."
The university claimed its status as one of the top ten universities in the country meant many youngsters from ethnic backgrounds failed to make the grade.
It added the low proportion of African and Caribbean students in higher education was more to do with problems with the school education system.
Warwick's lower ethnic make-up may also be linked to its greenbelt location compared to the region's more urban-based universities, which have a higher proportion of black and Asian students.
The research by Higher Education Statistics Agency found Birmingham's Aston University to be the most diverse with nearly half its students (49 per cent) from ethnic backgrounds.
Vice-chancellor Michael Wright said it was the result of a combination of specialising in courses such as pharmacy and business, which are particularly popular with Asian families, and the use of students as peer mentors in local schools.
That had resulted in the proportion of students drawn from the local community rising from about 12 per cent to the upper 30s, he said.
Professor Wright added: "We don't operate any positive discrimination. We are totally opposed to that."
Nine of the Russell Group universities had fewer than 30 African Caribbean students, and ethnic minority under-graduates were found to comprise less than ten per cent of the student population at about half of Britain's universities.
"There is also some racial bias in admissions at some universities," the Department for Education and Skills has admitted.
Trevor Phillips, chairman of the CRE, has encouraged universities to take "positive action" to eradicate any perceived racial bias. Sir Trevor also blamed poor exam results among some ethnic minorities for their failure to get into top universities.