The Exchange Blog

News and updates from the Teaching, Learning and Employability Exchange at University of the Arts London


Universities UK (UUK) and the NUS release major new study of BAME student attainment at UK Universities

Findings and recommendations from students and staff to address attainment differential outcomes #CLOSINGTHEGAP

A major new study into the inequalities that black, Asian and minority ethnic students face at UK Universities has just been published, featuring significant contributions from UAL staff, students and Arts SU.

The research was led by Baroness Valerie Amos, Director of SOAS, University of London and Amatey Doku, Vice-President for Higher Education from the National Union of Students.

Read the full report and recommendations

The project was commissioned to further understand how UK universities are addressing attainment differentials. The awarding gap (Singh, 2018) refers to the substantial inequalities in good degree outcomes (first- or upper-second-class awards) that continue to persist between home students identifying as white and home students of colour across the higher education sector.  At UAL this currently stands at 18%, a decrease of 4% from last year.

UAL has made a strategic commitment to eradicate these differentials by 2022 and is working across the colleges to decolonise the curriculum; develop inclusive pedagogies; address the psycho-social interactions between students and staff (Mountford Zimdars et al, 2018); build a sense of belonging and encourage conversations about race.

The report offers a textured analysis of attainment differentials within UK universities and summarises feedback from students and universities to then map 5 key steps to eliminating these inequalities. These are:

  • Provide strong leadership – university leaders should demonstrate a commitment to removing the BAME attainment gap and lead by example
  • have conversations about race and changing cultures
  • develop racially diverse and inclusive environments, ensuring that BAME students have a good sense of belonging
  • gather and analyse data on the attainment gap
  • understand what works – universities can share evidence of what works and what does not

Interview with UAL graduate Joel Simpson

Headshot of Joel Simpson "When I arrived at University it didn;'t seem like diversity was being celebrated and utilised in the way I was used to."

Chelsea Fine Art graduate, Joel Simpson, has contributed to the report and speaks about his experience of a student of colour at UAL.

Joel has been a lead team member in the delivery of the UAL Creative Mindsets project that delivers workshops with both students and staff (avoiding a student deficit model) to address bias and stereotype and open up conversations about race. This project, led by the Teaching and Learning Exchange, has been supported through the work of the Academic Enhancement Model (AEM) a sustainable approach to working with course teams to unpack attainment and NSS data. Joel points out that, “It’s important that staff interrogate the data behind attainment gaps, but they also need to understand the nuances and factors that lead to those gaps.”




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