Opportunities to engage students as partners in addressing the BAME Awarding Gap.
Student Curriculum Partners
To help us enhance the inclusivity of UCL’s curriculum, we have developed the Inclusive Curriculum Health Check, a resource designed to help staff reflect on the inclusivity of their programmes. To complement this, we have set-up the role of Student Curriculum Partner.
The aim of the role is to provide a student perspective on the inclusivity of UCL’s curriculum, particularly in relation to race and ethnicity.
As a Student Curriculum Partner, students are responsible for reviewing modules using a supporting guidance framework in pairs or small groups and participating in meetings with fellow Student Curriculum Partners to discuss the outcome of that review. Students then have the option of sharing their feedback directly with staff, or having their feedback shared anonymously through the BAME Awarding Gap project team, to help facilitate change. This is an opportunity for students to enhance the curriculum for themselves and their peers, and to shape the future of UCL’s learning experience.
In 2018/19 the scheme was piloted in Brain Sciences and Engineering, and in 2020/21 was rolled out further to Arts & Humanities, Social & Historical Sciences and Life Sciences. Below are some comments from students and staff who have participated in the scheme:
First, let’s get some worries out of the way: while the idea of having students look in detail at a particular aspect of one’s module might seem threatening, the overall process was very friendly and collaborative. Again, contrary to fears that one might have, the process was also not onerous at all.
The results in the case of linguistics can be described as a friendly nudge to do better in some areas and positive reinforcement to keep doing well what we are doing well. In particular, the students noticed that in some of our first year modules we can make even more use of the knowledge and experience of our very diverse students (we have many overseas students who are speakers of historically completely unrelated languages). We plan to diversify examples used at the early stages of instruction away from standard English (convenient because it is also the lingua franca of instruction) and to less prestigious varieties of English and our students’ native languages. This will hopefully allow them to identify more strongly with the content of the classes and to reflect critically on the social dimensions of language use.
Staff comments on the SCP experience: Linguistics
Being from an underrepresented group from UCL, I feel like I was able to make an actual impact on the studies of future students from a similar background as me, avoiding feelings of 'imposter syndrome'.
Student comment on the SCP experience: Geography
Within this role, we reviewed the materials of two modules in the Faculty of Brain Sciences BA Linguistics, examining the use of English language, inclusive terminology, diversity of assessment types, among other aspects of the course. We identified and reported on current good practices and points to consider to allow for more inclusivity, specifically in relation to race and ethnicity. Overall I found the work as a Student Curriculum Partner to be incredibly rewarding and fun, as this has been an opportunity to think outside of the box and make my course more adapted to all students.
Student comment on the SCP experience: Linguistics
Throughout the process, I consistently felt empowered as a BAME student, rather than disappointed. This is not to suggest that the work of those advocating for diversity and inclusion is done, rather the opposite. It is both ongoing and iterative, because even those tasked with reviewing content are on a learning journey. The experience felt like a responsibility and has given me the opportunity to immerse myself within my own discipline and knowing my contributions were valid and listened to, even as a novice! Having my work fed back to world class professors who are willing to listen and learn gives me a sense of pride and optimism that the gap in experiences and outcomes of BAME students can be reduced.
Student comment on the SCP experience: Geography “
BAME Awarding Gap Fund for students
UCL ChangeMakers is collaborating with the BAME Awarding Gap project and Students’ Union UCL to offer specific funding and support for student projects which will further our commitment to address the disparities in outcomes and experiences of BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) and White students at UCL.
Projects funded in the 2020-21 cycle include the creation of the B-Asia magazine, a student-led magazine profiling untold stories about Asia and ‘being Asian’, and research into the experiences of Blacks medics in UCL Medical School.
Funding details and deadlines for 2021/22 are being finalised and more information will be posted when the next round of the fund opens.
If you'd like any further information on these initiatives, please contact Sukhi Bath, Project Manager (Access and Widening Participation Office, UCL Student and Registry Services).