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BME Student Success Project

King’s is committed to improving the Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) student experience. We have set Key Performance Indicator and OFFA Agreement target to reduce the attainment gap 1st class degree level by 2% annually. 


The attainment gap between Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) and White students is a well-documented national finding and is currently estimated to be 16.1% (Heidi database, 2012/13).

The attainment gap is defined as a “measurement of the difference between the proportion of first degree undergraduate qualifiers within two groups who obtain a first class or upper second class honours degree” (Broecke and Nicholls, ‘Ethnicity and Degree Attainment’, 2007).

12% – the attainment gap between home undergraduate BME students and White students in 2014/15 at King’s, this varies between departments and is sometimes more concentrated at first class degree level. Black students are under-represented in obtaining a Good degree and over-represented in attaining a Lower Second or Pass.

43% – the population of BME home undergraduate students at King’s in 2013/14; of which 25% were Asian (the largest ethnic group institutionally being 12% Indian) and 7% were Black (the smallest ethnic group institutionally being 1% Caribbean).

28% – the population of BME students at PGT level and 23% at PGR.

The HEFCE Report ‘Differences in Degree Outcomes’ indicates that even when controlling for entry qualifications, BME graduates in 2013-14 have an unexplained difference of 15 percentage points.

Please see our factsheet for up to date King's data.

BME Student Success Project

The BME Student Success Project Working Group was established in January 2014, chaired by the Vice-Principal (Education), and comprised of King’s staff, KCLSU sabbatical officer Vice-President for Education and Ethnic Minorities Officer to take a strategic approach institutionally to improve the experience and outcomes of BME students.

The BME Student Success Steering Group has been set up to support the university strategy to reduce the attainment gap, to provide guidance and support to faculties and to monitor data at undergraduate and postgraduate level. 

Following the research phase completed in March 2015 and recent feedback on the actions we committed to in our  Race Equality Chartermark Submission, we are workign to deliver a range of interventions and initiatives to reduce the attainment gap. 

What we have done so far
  • Targets: The Principal and the Senior Management team have set stretching institutional and faculty targets to reduce the attainment gap and improve the representation of BME academic and professional services staff over the next three-years. This is monitored annually and Faculties are asked to implement actions and strategies to help narrow the gap. Our attainment KPI targets the attainment of BME students obtaining a 1st class degrees, because this is the area where we most need to improve. Our target has now been included in our Office for Fair Access Agreement.

  • Inclusive Education Project: We're working with the King's Learning Institute to deliver resources and support for teaching staff to embed inclusive learning, teaching and curricula approaches locally. This includes a Teaching Resources Portal (launching October 2016), bespoke workshops and events, an audit tool to monitor inclusive practice on programmes and working with faculties such as the Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy to pilot an inclusive education strategy. 

  • Open Doors Mentoring Scheme: In 2015/16 we successfully piloted a group mentoring scheme that links BME students with BME academic staff to support student success. In October 2016 the scheme will be launched institution-wide at faculty level. 

  • Open Doors Project: A visual display and wesbite celebrating the achievements of our BME staff and students across campuses. 

  • Embedding BME student support: We've worked with different departments such as Widening Participation, Student Services and the Personal Tutor Resource team to embed the needs of BME students. 

What we are working on this year
  • Working with our Steering Group to steer and embed change at a local level, particularly in relation to curricula, learning and teaching.

  • Hosting open meetings twice a year to talk to create a forum to regularly talk about race and hear from our staff and students.

  • Evaluating and reviewing pilot inclusive education strategies Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy to improve and implement frameworks more widely. 

  • Developing and piloting a new Unconscious Bias training workshop programme on unconscious bias in the curricula and classroom.

  • Launching the Open Doors Mentoring Scheme. This will include group mentoring sessions with BME academics and a range of workshops and activities to support mental health and wellbeing

  • Making our harassment reporting process more visible and providing increased support to challenge inappropriate and racist behavior

  • Publishing our response to the Prevent Duty on our webpages to provide clarity on what we are, and are not, doing, and meeting with key students groups and societies to allay fears and provide transparency

  • Undertaking research in order to devise and roll out pilot initiatives to increase the proportion of BME academics appointed and to support junior BME academics to progress up the career ladder.

  • Working with Widening Participation to improve the representation of Black students at undergraduate level. 

  • Researching the experience of BME students at Postgraduate Taught and research level. 

Student experience

BME students are not an homogenous group, and the cultural and socio-economic factors contributing to the BME attainment gap are complex. However, unlike their white peers, BME students may experience discrimination and may be affected by stereotype threat in a university environment. 

In the NUS Black Students Campaign National Students Survey, it was found that, '42 per cent did not believe their curriculum reflected issues of diversity, equality and discrimination.'  Watch the 'Why is my curriculum white?' film online.


In February 2016, the KCLSU AGM voted to change the name of the Ethnic Minorities Association and its representative officer to People of Colour Association;  details and the AGM minutes can be read online. After consultation with KCLSU, this section adopts the same nomenclature.

Nationally, the term 'BME' (Black & Minority Ethnic) is still used and national reports/statistics and university guidance or policies will refer to a BME attainment gap.

POC students represent around 41% of the undergraduate student population at King’s (2015-16).

How our students feel 

“They assume that I’m not doing well on my course because I’m black whilst actually I’m doing pretty well. People always assume the worst of me or assume that I’m not capable and then they’re shocked or surprised that I come out and achieve good things”

In March 2016 the KCLSU People of Colour Association organised two open meetings with the Principal and BME students. Additionally, in November 2014 we hosted a series of focus groups delivered by BME student researchers and conducted all-student race equality survey to hear about their experiences at King’s. BME students highlighted the following issues:

  • A broader range of perspectives and experiences than western-centric ones need to be reflected in curricula

  • A diverse set of cultural pedagogies and approaches need to be acknowledged and supported

  • Inappropriate behaviours and language from staff and students are frequently used to undermine perspectives and experiences, having serious effects on engagement, participation and outcomes

  • More comprehensive and culturally sensitive support should be available for BME students such as mental health/wellbeing provision and mentoring

  • The underrepresentation and visibility of BME academics as an issue that also impacts the belonging and experience of BME students

  • Fears of Prevent and feeling watched, rather than watched over

  • Unclear harassment reporting procedures and support

  • A more diverse and inclusive culture is important and good for all students.

Useful resources

For students

Our services and activities page highlights the support available for BME students. 

For staff

Student composition, attainment, retention and completion data by protected characteristic is available internally on the Planning & Analytics pages.

Intersectional contexts are important in identifying relevant support; departments like Widening Participation have access to data on low socio-economic background and students who live at home – groups that BME students are often a part of that can impact their experience.

The BME Student Report and Race Equality Charter Mark Submission is available from the Diversity & Inclusion Team.

Speak to BME students

The best way to find out how BME students feel about your module, course or service is to ask them.

Invite students in to talk about their experience and to make recommendations for improvements. It’s also great to have BME student representation on relevant committees or working groups to incorporate their perspectives throughout key processes or projects to ensure inclusivity.

KCLSU associations/societies can help provide representation and feedback.

Training and resources

Personal Tutors can access the internal Personal Tutor Portal that features useful resources on supporting students and has considered the needs of BME students. 

The Inclusive Education Portal is a one-stop-shop for inclusive teaching resources, guidance and practice at King's. The portal highlights key student groups such as BME students.  

King’s Academy are able to share best practice and deliver bespoke departmental workshops to support inclusive learning, teaching and assessment. An Inclusive Education Network has recently been launched to connect academic and professional services staff to support local activity.

Unconscious Bias Training and toolkit is available for academic and professional services staff to provide the tools to reduce the impacts of unconscious bias.

Support and encourage an inclusive culture

BME staff and students at King’s indicated that everyday racism or micro-aggressions were a commonplace experience for them. This includes inappropriate comments, stereotyping and jokes that can be humiliating, insulting or derogatory.

It is important that such behaviour is challenged and in some instances this means simply being an active bystander.

Our harassment, bullying and discrimination online guidance provides definitions, case-studies and formal/informal ways that these can be dealt with.


Contact  Diversity & Inclusion for more information on BME attainment and initiatives to support student success. 


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