In line with much of the Higher Education sector, at the University of Brighton there is a gap in the proportional number of 1st and 2:1 degrees awarded to students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds when compared to students from White backgrounds. We see the language of an ‘attainment gap’ is a negative student deficit term that suggests that the students are not achieving, rather than recognising that it is a ‘degree awarding’ gap which is of the sector/institution’s creation.
We are taking a whole-institution approach to addressing the differential experience and outcomes. Our intention is to change our culture rather than problematising the students.
In a targeted programme of activity, we aim to address the differential outcomes and experience of our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students through three areas of work: developing staff; supporting students; and data and process. The approach is underpinned by the Universities UK/National Union of Students #ClosingTheGap framework (pdf) published in May 2019.
Focus groups were held across the schools and professional service departments to understand more about the experiences of our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students. The outcomes from the focus groups were formed into staff development workshops to enable colleagues to reflect on the experiences of their students and plan local level actions to improve the experiences of the students.
These started in the winter 2019, inviting external speakers from within HE and from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community to share their insights into the issues around the student experience and for staff to discuss issues related to Race and Ethnicity (as recommended in the ClosingTheGap Framework). Most recently we have welcomed colleagues from within the institution to raise awareness of issues impacting on the experience of BAME students.
The recordings of the speakers can be found on Mediastream (login required):
Inclusive practice resources
These have been completely redesigned and take into account Inclusive Practice in its widest definition and focus around pedagogies which develop a sense of belonging for all students. These resources support the implementation of the Learning and Teaching Inclusive Practice and Accessibility Policy and were further updated for COVID-19.
Digitally enabled learning resources
Resources developed by the Learning and Teaching Hub also include resources for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students during the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing on the work of Dr Gurnam Singh from the University of Coventry who has been leading the sector in considering BAME students’ experiences.
The Identity Mentoring Match programme enables Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students to get support from a mentor who has experience of living or working in the local community.
It is available to students from all subjects areas. Before the COVID-19 lockdown 45 students were paired with a mentor under the scheme. During the lockdown a further 27 students were paired with mentors to develop the mentoring relationship remotely, a further cohort is currently being rolled out with remote mentors coming from across the country.
In 2019–2020 Brighton Business School led the Schools of Media, Environment and Technology, Education, and Sport and Service Management in a project to develop the confidence of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students through developing their pre-professional identities.
Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic alumni as role models.
Data and process
This has been fully implemented where the assessment type allows.
Key performance indicators have been established this year, which include five year targets for closing the BAME degree awarding gap.
Learning and Teaching Inclusive Practice and Accessibility Policy
The policy was created to support the strategic commitment to inclusivity and accessibility for all students. The focus is on:
- designing and developing inclusive courses and modules
- delivering accessible and inclusive learning and teaching experiences
- creating inclusive assessments.
A key aspect of the policy and its implementation is the requirement to consider decolonisation and diversifying the curriculum at the point of approval. This is achieved through the Inclusive Practice Partners scheme.