The University of Brighton is employing a range of initiatives to address such degree award gaps, such as anonymity in assessments, and increased training for staff in race literacy. They have also introduced a pioneering Inclusive Practice Partnerships (IPP) Scheme, a five-year programme begun in 2020 which engages students and staff as partners to create a more inclusive curriculum. Student Inclusive Practice Partners are paid for their time to work with Academic Staff Inclusive Practice Leads across schools to review curriculum content, and develop resources to support decolonising and diversifying learning and teaching.
Professor Rebecca Elmhirst, Professor of Human Geography in the School of Applied Sciences, offers examples of outcomes. “On our first year Geography and Environmental Sciences core module on global environmental issues, we have shifted the emphasis to show how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports now include scientific contributions from black scientists, other racialised groups, and scientists from and based in countries in the global south. We also now centre our teaching around climate justice, amplifying the experiences and voices of black and indigenous communities on the frontline of climate impacts across the world.
“Second and final year Geography and Environmental Sciences students studying modules on Sustainable Futures and Political Ecology: Contested Environments have also been able to learn directly from researchers in global south contexts, such as research on the ecological and social impacts of oil palm plantations and coal mining in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Online platforms have enabled us to engage in ‘real time’ with the Indonesian scientists undertaking this work.“
As part of its commitment to the higher education sector's Race Equality Charter, the university's Identity Match Mentoring Scheme offers to match students and mentors by ethnicity, background heritage or a shared experience of being racialised. Students are paired with a trained professional who provides support in working towards goals and building confidence.
The university's Race Equality Steering Group also encourages staff and students to constantly reflect on practice and experience, while promoting initiatives to drive change – such as Professor Bhavik Patel's race equity posters drawing on his experiences in academia, highlighting barriers faced due to race equality challenges, and providing thoughts on potential solutions.
Joanna MacDonnell, Director of Education and Students, who leads the Education and Students Experience strategic work to address differential student outcomes, said: “We have worked with our students, regularly listening to their voices, to inform our whole institution approach to addressing the ethnicity degree awarding gaps. We are consciously working towards developing a more inclusive university environment and student experience through a number of measures which includes work on our curriculum, policy developments and creating opportunities for the university community to reflect on the lived experiences of staff and students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Backgrounds”