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Arts & Culture

Ethnicity Awarding Gap Project: Implementation

Reducing awarding gaps is part of the Arts & Humanities Student Experience Strategy, which aims to maintain an inclusive community environment. At the time this project was conceptualised, the ethnicity awarding gap in the Faculty between students from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic backgrounds and their white counterparts was 11.2% at the level of 1St class degrees and 3.4% when 2:1 and 1st class degrees were combined.  

Consequently, the Ethnicity Awarding Gap project was developed. This project sought to begin an action research project which involved student-staff co-creation aiming to better understand the student experience of UK-domiciled Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic undergraduate students in the Faculty.

  • This project aimed to actively work with students from these backgrounds to uncover contributing factors to the ethnicity awarding gap.
  • This project used an action research methodology as it endeavours to amplify participants’ voices as it actively involves them in transforming education.  
  • Ten student co-researchers were hired from across the Faculty to work with the Student Experience Team on this project.
  • The co-researchers shared their insights, experiences, and challenges as students of colour within the Faculty and worked collaboratively to define and design the scope of the focus groups they led with other students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.   

Focus groups

These focus groups revealed student opinion on community and belonging, teaching, and learning. Other themes included comfortability accessing support, university preparedness, capital in its various forms and navigating the hidden curriculum. The co-researchers analysed this focus group data and produced six research project outlines and actionable recommendations for us to consider at faculty and department level. You can read more about them here. As a result, the next step for this project through the successful procurement of funding, liaison with key stakeholders and continued student consultation is to establish these projects and recommendations across the Faculty in the hope to transform experiences and graduating awards for students from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. 

REIEF funding

The REIEF funding will allow this work in bringing these student projects to life to continue a larger scale. The student project recommendations have provided this work with a clearly outlined areas of focus. This funding would enable to the Student Experience team to have a ringfenced budget for this work which would involve the hiring of paid student staff for this student co-creation work and working with key stakeholders needed for each project. In terms of specific plans, the budget of £10,000 would be allocated for the delivery of around four of these student projects exploring the following areas: 

  • Student focus groups assessing quality of personal tutor relationships from the student perspective with the aim to improve personal tutor and student relationships.  
  • Examine the quality and frequency of training received by personal tutors i.e. to what extent does training for personal tutors to take into account student experience of students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds at university?  
  • Focus groups to understand how to improve seminar engagement and inclusion from the student perspective.  
  • Improved clarity in decolonisation work across the faculty and developing D&I pages on KEATs. 


In terms of evaluation of this work in terms of its impact on student experience but also in transforming graduating awards for students from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic backgrounds will be considered in three broad ways. The first would involve end of project evaluations for students who were part of the projects gaining insights into their student experience of being involved, the projects aims and outcomes. 

Secondly a broader analysis of whether the projects met desired or expected outcome and what findings might mean for the faculty and lastly an assessment of all projects and an analysis of any impact on awarding gaps and student experience across the faculty. 

Project status: Ongoing

Principal Investigator