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UCL part of consortium that secures £500K to tackle BME attainment gap

14 March 2017

A project to increase the number of students from black and minority ethnic backgrounds who achieve good degrees has been awarded £500,000 by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

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A project to increase the number of students from black and minority ethnic backgrounds who achieve good degrees has been awarded £500,000 by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

A consortium of six higher education institutions including UCL and one college of further education secured the maximum amount of funding available from HEFCE’s £7.5m Catalyst Fund, launched by the Government as part of a programme addressing barriers to student success.

The project will expand on work by Kingston University, the lead institution, to identify why fewer black and minority ethnic (BME) students achieve First or 2:1 degrees compared with their fellow white students – a discrepancy known nationally as the BME attainment gap.

As a member of the consortium, UCL will be able to access the programme of changes Kingston University has made to its culture and curriculum to successfully combat this disparity: Kingston University’s BME attainment gap has narrowed from 29 per cent in 2012/13 to 15 per cent in 2015/16. 

Kingston University will also share with UCL and the five other partner institutions (De Montfort, Greenwich, Hertfordshire and Wolverhampton universities and further education college, NESCOT) the unique value added measure it has devised along with its initiative to develop a student-centred framework for building inclusivity in to the curriculum.

Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Kingston University Nona McDuff said that the inclusive framework had significantly contributed to this success: ‘It leads to a curriculum that is accessible, reflects students’ backgrounds and prepares them to contribute positively to a global and diverse workplace.’

UCL will explore the potential of a number of other initiatives developed by Kingston, including providing data to monitor achievement within courses and making diversity a criteria for academic promotion;  equality and unconscious bias seminars and workshops for staff; training on factors influencing the attainment gap for course representatives; the launch of a student-led diversity programme; and expansion of initiatives such as a BME student leadership project and mentoring scheme.

With all seven institutions contributing match funding, the overall project is predicted to be worth more than £1.1million over a two-year period. At UCL the funding will be used to recruit staff to manage and measure the impact of the project and implement initiatives at each institution. The project will be led by the Office of the Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs).