11 May 2021 Opinion
11 May 2021 Opinion
2 May 2019 Publications
2 May 2019 Publications
Last updated on Thursday 9 Sep 2021 on 3:13pm
An attainment gap between students of different ethnicities exists at the vast majority of UK universities. Evidence suggests that these cannot be explained by a students’ background or prior qualifications. Here are what some of those students think about it.
For Adesewa, it is important that the BAME attainment gap is seen as a university-wide issue. It should not be left to the BAME community to fix.
Adesewa has been involved in the BAME ambasaddor scheme, working with the library services on a project called Broaden my Bookshelf. The project has been examining how diverse the university's reading lists are and speaking to lecturers and students to see which ways the curriculum can be changed to be more inclusive to BAME communities.
What I would like to see from university leaders is actually starting the conversation. So it starts with making a conscious effort to engage with BAME ambassadors and find out what they're struggling with, what they would like to input into. Things like the curriculum: what kind of changes they would like to make? And then not just starting the conversation, but also listening, and actioning all the things that have been proposed.
Joel studied fine art at the University of the Arts, London. When Joel first arrived at university he felt as though he was "falling through the cracks", so he hugely valued the university's 'Creative Mindsets' project, which "opened up a number of conversations about race" among students and staff.
Joel believes that staff need to understand the Black, Asian and Minority Attainment gap through a much broader "matrix of discrimination" that students experience as part of their daily lives.
Amna studied sociology at Aston University, where she was President of the Students' Union. She believes in the importance of role models for students at university, particularly the positive impact they have on a student's motivation and career aspirations.
For Amna, tackling the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic attainment gap rests on thorough and open consultation with students; rather than guessing what support students need, university leaders should involve students as much as possible when designing and implementing initiatives that aim to tackle the issue.
I want to see our leaders have open discussions with their students and staff. They need to be sensitive, but also make an effort to learn, as well as educate.
Salma studied pharmacy at Aston University, and was also the BAME Officer at the Students' Union.
Salma describes her role as 'making sure people know they have somebody to represent them' in discussions at the university around Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) attainment. For Salma, the fact that this year the university has invited student representatives onto its equality, diversity and wellbeing boards has made students feel happy that their issues and concerns are being heard.
It's understandable that staff might not know what BAME students go through and the issues they face. But it's about being open to understanding and learning.
Joy studied law at the University of Kent, and has been actively involved in the DecoloniseUKC project at the university.
As well as sitting on the project's committee, Joy has held focus groups with students and also co-hosts the project’s podcast, ‘Stripping the White Walls’.
The aim of the podcast is to discuss issues surrounding race at the University of Kent, including the Black, Asian and Minority Ethic attainment gap, and a number of the university’s academic staff have featured as interviewees.
For Joy, it is extremely important that the student voice is amplified in discussions about race and ethnicity at the university; in her words, without students, the university itself wouldn’t exist.
Her work with the project, as well as the modules she has studied on race, religion and law, have helped Joy to communicate more effectively what it feels like to be a Black female student at the University of Kent.
I would like to see more diversity in staff at the university. There is currently a barrier there, which more diverse staff would help to overcome. It helps to see people you relate to.
Sanif studied business administration at Kingston University London. He believes that the wider student body is largely unaware of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic attainment gap, and that closer engagement with students will ultimately help universities to tackle the issue.
Having a tutor from the same background as me gave me a sense of comfort. I was able to talk to them, not only about academic issues, but also advice for me personally.