Universities told to tackle race attainment gap

Universities must “accelerate efforts” to close a gap in degree attainment between white and black, Asian and minority ethnic students, a study says. The BBC reports.

Universities UK and the National Union of Students highlight a 13% gap between the chances of white and BAME students getting a first or upper second degree. UUK and the NUS say campuses need a culture change to feel more inclusive.

“To make sure our gap closes, there need to be initiatives,” says Aston University student Amna Ateeq. “And we are more than happy to get involved,” says Amna, who contributed to the UUK and NUS research.

“But we need to know where we need to start and what we need to look for. We want university support looking at the curriculum, at other staff members at the university or at having other talks from people who have succeeded in careers and bringing them back to inspire our students.”

For Amna, who is coming towards the end of her term as Student Union president at Aston, giving BAME students good role models is crucial to raising aspirations.

“I think there’s this unconscious bias with students that, if they don’t see their role models in certain careers at university or in certain careers, in companies, they automatically take them out of line of their future career.”

The report acknowledges that many universities have worked to reduce the attainment gap, but says that with 81% of white students getting a first or 2:1 in 2017-18 compared with 68% of BAME students, more must be done.

It highlights five ways that universities can improve outcomes:

  • 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

Read the full article Universities told to tackle race attainment gap

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