Please could you tell us about your planned student-focused initiatives?
I am mainly focusing on widening participation for our undergraduate programme in Biomedical Engineering. It is amazing that our programme has a great gender balance and, nearly every year, female students have outnumbered male students, which is very unusual for engineering courses. We also have a great international and ethnic representation on the programme.
However, we are not doing so well in terms of African-Caribbean students coming into the programme. This is something that we need to change in the coming time and will be the focus of my activities for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion. It is particularly important for a London university to address this since 13 percent of London's population is black.
Are there particular personal career experiences that motivated you to commence this initiative? Why have you decided to champion this?
I just notice that there are very few black students in our courses, whether it be undergraduate, postgraduate taught or postgraduate research. This may explain why we do not have many black colleagues in our School or our University. The picture changes as soon as we step outside of the College.
How do you envisage this initiative in practical terms? What do you hope it will achieve for students?
We will provide outreach activities to encourage black students to apply to King’s College London for biomedical engineering, particularly focusing on London schools and areas where there are significant black populations. We will provide academic mentors for our black undergraduate students and support for preparing a portfolio for going on to postgraduate degrees. We will also support our black students to engage with industry to increase their network and give them better chances for employment. Furthermore, we will support our black students for well-being.
How will you go about setting it up? Will you involve students as well?
The School is making this initiative a part of its EDI Action Plan and also seeking funding to support the project. We have recently received funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering for the project.
How do you hope that staff and students engage with the initiative?
We have a great EDI Group in the School and they are supporting the initiative. We have also been joined by current undergraduate and postgraduate black students who will use their experiences to propel the scheme forwards. We aim to start the scheme in the 2022/23 academic year.
If staff or students are interested to support the scheme then please do get in touch with Professor Rhode.
Learn more about the Success for Black Engineering programme.