Universities must “accelerate efforts” to close a gap in degree attainment between white and black, Asian and minority ethnic students, a study says.
Universities UK and the National Union of Students highlight a 13% gap between the chances of white and BAME students getting a first or upper second degree.
UUK and the NUS say campuses need a culture change to feel more inclusive.
“To make sure our gap closes, there need to be initiatives,” says Aston University student Amna Atteeq.
“And we are more than happy to get involved,” says Amna, who contributed to the UUK and NUS research.
“But we need to know where we need to start and what we need to look for. We want university support looking at the curriculum, at other staff members at the university or at having other talks from people who have succeeded in careers and bringing them back to inspire our students.”
Joel Simpson, from the University of the Arts in London, who also contributed to the research, added: “I think it’s definitely key that the staff interrogate the data behind attainment gaps.
“But they need to understand the nuances, the factors that lead to those attainment gaps. That can only really be gained by immersing themselves within the student body, getting a clear understanding of students’ day-to-day lives and how students move through the college.
“Sometimes it can be the smallest things that affect a student’s mindset.”
For Amna, who is coming towards the end of her term as Student Union president at Aston, giving BAME students good role models is crucial to raising aspirations.
“I think there’s this unconscious bias with students that, if they don’t see their role models in certain careers at university or in certain careers, in companies, they automatically take them out of line of their future career.
“And for us to tackle that, it’s really important to have certain role models at university, or bring people on board through talks, to show our students that they have made it in certain companies or career paths.”