Our recommendations: Strong leadership
University leaders need to go further in committing to removing ethnicity degree-awarding gaps by working with students.
They should be accountable for a ‘whole-university approach’ to closing the gap.
Leaders should develop their own understanding of racial inequality to help drive genuine change.
This is because we won’t succeed in closing the awarding gap unless university leaders at the highest level lead by example and take responsibility for change.
For example, universities could:
- include racial inequality as a standing item for all board and committee meetings
- diversify board and governance structures
- implement reverse mentoring for senior leaders and managers by BAME students
- give colleagues opportunities to discuss racial inequality in a supported space
What’s changed since 2019?
Since 2019, many university leaders have made clear progress in committing to removing ethnicity degree-awarding gaps.
Senior leaders and their management teams have taken ownership of, and accountability for, closing the gap.
But this senior level commitment needs to be embedded across the whole university.
Mentoring at Swansea University
Swansea University has put in place reverse and collaborative mentoring programmes between students and senior leaders. These programmes are beneficial to students and provide senior leaders with insight into the student experience, specifically their experience as ethnic minority members of the community and their experience of the awarding gap.
In order to get a real conversation going around race and anti-racism, it’s important that we have an environment of honesty, an environment of transparency, the opportunity for people to feel safe in terms of those conversations. And that’s a culture that is started from the level of the senior leader.
Professor Martin Stringer
Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education, Swansea University
What did university staff say?
- Over 96% of those who responded to our survey told us that their university board or executive have made a formal commitment to removing ethnicity degree-awarding gaps.
- Almost all said that a member of their senior leadership team, most commonly the Pro- or Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor, was accountable for leading ethnicity degree-awarding gap work.
- 75% described their approach to removing ethnicity degree-awarding gaps as either fully or mostly embedded across the whole institution.
- But while 75% share, or plan to share, ethnicity awarding-gap data with students, there are still some concerns about how this is communicated without having a negative impact on students.