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Closing the BAME Awarding Gap at UCL: our journey so far

09 June 2021, 9:45 am–4:30 pm

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External guests and UCL staff and students can register to attend a free, one-day BAME Awarding Gap conference on 9 June, 2021.

Event Information

Open to

All

Availability

Yes

Organiser

Sukhi Bath – Head of Student Success Projects and Co-Lead BAME Awarding project. 

BAME conference outline 

The UCL Black, Asian and minority Ethnic (BAME) Awarding Gap Project will hold a one-day conference for UCL staff and students on the theme of ‘Closing the BAME Awarding Gap at UCL: our journey so far'.

The conference will take place via Zoom on Wednesday, 9 June 2021 and will begin with a welcome from President & Provost, Dr Michael Spence at 9:45am.

Conference programme

Time

Session

Tuesday 8 June, before the conference

Students' reflections

Check out the right-hand sidebar for a selection of asynchronous content (blogs, videos and presentation slides) from UCL students. 

Delegates are invited to engage with these students' reflections and commentary on the topic of closing the BAME Awarding Gap, and vote for your favourite submission. Voting details are in the joining instructions received by email. 

9.45-10.15

Welcome and Introduction

by the Provost Dr Michael Spence, and the Students' Union UCL Education Officer, Ayman Benmati. 

10.15-10.45

Talk and Q&A by Chris Millward

Chris Millward (Director for Fair Access and Participation) Talk and Q&A

10.45 -11.00 

Short Break

11.00-11.50

Talk and Q&A by Heidi Mirza

Heidi Mirza (Professor of Race, Faith and Culture at Goldsmiths, UoL, Professor Emerita in Equalities Studies at UCL, and Visiting Professor in Social Policy at LSE) Talk and Q&A

11.50-12.30

BAME Awarding Gap Project Update

by Dr Julie Evans, Dr Parama Chaudhury, Sukhi Bath and Mahalia Davis

12.30-1.30

Lunch Break

1.30-2.00

Parallel sessions

Click on a session title below to read the abstract.  

1.30-2.00 sessions 

Room 1: What does an ‘inclusive’ curriculum mean? Students views on inclusivity and diversity

Speaker(s): Karen Schucan Bird

This presentation identifies student perspectives of an ‘inclusive’ curriculum, based on a focus group with UCL social science undergraduates. Students defined the content of an inclusive curriculum in terms of representation, global understandings, and diverse perspectives.

Student-led learning and pedagogies that promoted ‘openness, critical thinking’ also defined the inclusive curriculum. The presentation will describe these key themes, outline examples of implementing these understandings in the classroom and reflect on the implications.

This research was part of a Changemakers project (2018-19) that aimed to co-design a diverse and ‘inclusive’ reading list for a module in the social sciences.

Room 2: Developing an inclusive curriculum in Psychology

Speaker(s): Nicola Abbott and Evi Katsapi

The ‘eurocentric’ curriculum has been suggested as an important contributor to the BAME Attainment gap, as BAME students are less able to relate to, and find role models within, the literature. We will discuss our initial Changemakers project involving BAME students to produce a more inclusive and decolonized curriculum within Psychology, which reflects our diverse student body.

This BAME focus group project, led to revisions of our teaching, assessment and practices. This starting point, has also led to subsequent, and ongoing, changes to our curriculum. For example, a student-led research project using UCL’s Inclusive Curriculum Healthcheck, a student library of resources and bespoke assessments. We aim to present our findings and share our suggestions for good practice.

2.00-2.30

2.00-2.30 sessions 

Room 1: BAMEhack: a scalable staff-student collaboration to reveal BAME stakeholders in academic disciplines to help delivery of inclusive curriculum content

Speaker(s): Darren Nesbeth

The BAMEhack project seeks to establish a 12-15 month process, scalable to any higher education institution, that brings staff and students together with a common purpose; to re-discover and highlight (‘unhide’) BAME stakeholders and their contributions pertinent to a given academic discipline/sub-discipline, with the explicit aim of revising and updating programme content.

The BAMEhack project is intended to provide a useful and practical framework for discussion, discovery and inclusion of BAME stakeholders and their academic, societal or policy contributions in the teaching of a range of subjects. The project is designed to address unmet needs for inclusive curriculum development at UCL, cross-fertilising ideas and creating a well-established process, practical guidance, well-documented cases and finally, a community of best practice.

The first year of BAMEhack will be rolled out in two Engineering Departments, then two more Engineering Departments in year two then two more Departments from different Faculties in year three.

Room 2: Do we need a new language for talking about race? Should the ‘BAME’ term be replaced

Speaker(s): Alvena Kureshi and Lasana Harris

Words have a powerful effect. We see the power of words harnessed by journalists in creating narratives to influence the masses. We also see it used in propaganda statements for political movements. If words have such power, perhaps we need to reconsider the language we use to discuss race and ethnicity.

Race and ethnicity are terms that are often used interchangeably but have very different meanings. Race is a term used to categorise people by physical appearance such as the colour of their skin. Ethnicity is a much broader term and refers to ancestral origins or cultural identities and religious experiences people identify with (Irish or African-Caribbean). When we talk about race or ethnicity, we will find a plethora of terms and acronyms (BAME, BME, ethnic minority, minority ethnic, etc.) used to categorise people. These are constantly changing depending on the context of conversations. Where did these terms originate and why are they constantly evolving?

Why do certain acronyms hold negative connotations? Why do we need an acronym to categorise all people that are not white? Which category encompasses white ethnic minorities? As identity is extremely personal, we find ourselves wondering which acronyms are appropriate for use and what effect the choice of language has on our conversations.

2.30-3.00

2.30-3.00 sessions 

Room 1: Decolonising the curriculum and the BAME Awarding Gap

Speaker(s): Caroline Garaway and Obioma Egemonye

To decolonise, not just to diversify, is to recognise that knowledge is marked by power relations in which white hetero middle/upper-class men, still have disproportionate prominence. If we question the curriculum and its historically contextualised origins; then, rather than pretending we have a generic identity, questions of class, caste, race, gender, ability and sexuality are exposed and open to discussion and what (and how) we teach, open to change. This is the transformative potential of a decolonized curriculum; to break down structural inequalities and institutional racism. We also expect decolonised curricula to decrease the BAME awarding Gap.

Student engagement is recognised as a key factor in successful student outcomes and building learning communities, and a sense of belonging within departments is recognised as a key component of this. A decolonized curriculum, one that reflects the diverse cultural and social backgrounds of all our students will enhance this sense of belonging.

This presentation will outline how and why staff and students in SHS have worked together to foreground decolonised pedagogy, by holding a faculty decolonising the curriculum week, whilst also talking about some of the events of the week itself and the conversations it is generating amongst and between both students and staff.

Room 2: Together for change: Co-creating approaches to decolonising curriculum and teaching praxis in IGH

Speaker(s): Rochelle Burgess, Lucy Irvine and Mita Huq

This presentation will reflect on the co-produced Decolonising Global Health toolkit, created by the staff and student decolonising global health network at the Institute for global health. In our brief presentation, we will discuss the foundations (student experience); Process (devising and developing resources/toolkit) and implementation (piloting the toolkit this year). 

The toolkit being discussed has been awarded a Faculty Teaching Award in the Faculty of Population Health Sciences, and is currently being considered for a Provost teaching award. 

3.00-3.30

3.00-3.30 sessions 

Room 1: Alternative method to reduce the award-gap

Speaker(s): Louise Cramer

Alternative method to reduce the award-gap Scientific methods are one of the five top, outstanding actions required to reduce the UK, undergraduate degree award-gap (Amos and Doku 2019). In addition, I have found that numeric raw data only contributes 0.5% of the total evidence reported in the past decade on how to shrink the unexplained, difference between scores awarded to white and minority ethnic students.

To address both these issues I report a method that may guide module or degree programme organisers which particular, assessed components of a curriculum to change, potentially speeding closure of the award-gap in their subject.

Room 2: Inclusivity Involves Everyone - Strategies and outcomes of a workshop on inclusivity for students

Speaker(s): Charmian Dawson

Research indicates that group-work in diverse teams is most beneficial when groups are primed to work inclusively. Institutional ‘diversity-training’ programs often have little effect, and when poorly implemented, can result in negative consequences, sometimes termed ‘ironic effects’. A 2019 UCL survey indicated that ironic effects were at play in the student body.

In 2020, an inclusivity workshop was run for first year Neurosciences students with the aim of maximising educational benefits and minimizing ironic effects. The following strategies were used:

Multiple dimensions of discrimination were addressed, not just race The benefits/costs of inclusivity/exclusion on all team members were emphasized, not just marginalized groups

 

Pre-workshop surveys indicated that diversity was superficially valued as beneficial for marginalised groups, or improving cultural understanding. Post-workshop survey results shifted towards describing inclusion as benefitting everyone - through increased knowledge-sharing and creativity, and improved team-work outcomes.

  • Data and anecdotes were both used to illustrate key points. 

3.30-3.45

Short Break

3.45-4.15

Q&A panel

Chaired by Ijeoma Uchegbu (Pro-Vice Provost - Africa and The Middle East), with panellists Prof. Ijeoma Uchegbu, Sandy Ogundele, Aarushi Menon, Lasana Harris and Prof. Parama Chaudhury. 

4.15-4.30

Closing

by Deborah Gill (Vice-Provost, Education and Student Experience)

About the UCL BAME Awarding Gap Project

The Supporting BAME student success conference is part of a three-year project to address the disparities in outcomes and experience of undergraduate Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and white students at UCL.

Analysis of UCL data shows that there is a small but statistically significant discrepancy in the rate of good degrees achieved by Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students compared with white students, despite entering UCL with the same high entry qualifications.

While UCL students, whether white or BAME, tend to perform well above national benchmarks, this discrepancy, known as an awarding gap, has persisted for the past few years.

BAME Awarding Gap project team has been tasked with addressing the issue. Dr Julie Evans, Faculty Tutor in Brain Sciences, has undertaken part-time secondment to work alongside Paulette Williams, Head of Student Success Projects in the Office of the Vice-Provost (Education and Students).

The team is working with Deans and faculty leads to analyse faculty-specific data and introduce a toolkit of interventions to close the awarding gap.

The outcomes of this project will also feed into the broader initiative preparing UCL’s application to renew our Race Charter status.