“Good” degrees – but not for everyone

In a recent post I looked at the latest HESA data on the numbers of 1sts and 2(i)s awarded, noting the continued rise, and how these figures feed into the various league tables.

I suggested then that the HEIDI data could be used to see how students from different groups perform – in fact this is how the Equality Challenge Unit annual statistical reports are compiled.

Having looked at the information from the last two years, then we can see the attainment gap for BME students for 2012-13:

2012/13
HE student qualifiers
Full-person equivalent
Ethnicity (detailed 6 way)
White
Classification of first degree
1st and 2(i)s
2012/13
HE student qualifiers
Full-person equivalent
Ethnicity (detailed 6 way)
Black
Classification of first degree
1st and 2(i)s
2012/13
HE student qualifiers
Full-person equivalent
Ethnicity (detailed 6 way)
Asian
Classification of first degree
1st and 2(i)s
2012/13
HE student qualifiers
Full-person equivalent
Ethnicity (detailed 6 way)
Other (including mixed)
Classification of first degree
1st and 2(i)s
2012/13
HE student qualifiers
Full-person equivalent
Ethnicity (detailed 6 way)
Not Known
Classification of first degree
1st and 2(i)s
Sector Average 69% 45% 55% 62% 44%
Gap 24% 14% 7% 25%

 

In 2013-14 this changes to:

2013/14
HE student qualifiers
Full-person equivalent
Ethnicity (detailed 6 way)
White
% 1sts and 2(1)s
2013/14
HE student qualifiers
Full-person equivalent
Ethnicity (detailed 6 way)
Black
Classification of first degree
% 1sts and 2(1)s
2013/14
HE student qualifiers
Full-person equivalent
Ethnicity (detailed 6 way)
Asian
Classification of first degree
%1sts and 2(1)s
2013/14
HE student qualifiers
Full-person equivalent
Ethnicity (detailed 6 way)
Other (including mixed)
Classification of first degree
% 1sts and 2(1)s
2013/14
HE student qualifiers
Full-person equivalent
Ethnicity (detailed 6 way)
Not known
Classification of first degree
%1sts and 2(1)s
Sector Average 71% 48% 58% 65% 45%
Gap 23% 13% 5% 25%

 

So we can see that the attainment gap across the sector is beginning to close, but its still a work in progress. The data I’ve used to create these summary results does provide results for each institution, however I won’t be publishing that here, as all universities are tackling these matters in their own way, depending on their particular subject mix and student population.

At Staffordshire we’ll be doing some focused work in two particular schools (both of which I am currently seconded to), as these are our schools with the most diverse undergraduate populations. Conversations with our staff have already started to identify differing levels of engagement and attendance, and we are now looking at many of the topics raised by Winston Morgan, in his talk here last year, for instance the use of appropriate examples in teaching materials, the composition of the teaching team and the need to provide positive role models in an institution where the mix of people in power may not fully reflect the student body.

As well as considering ethnicity, we also need to look at how disability can affect student attainment. In general, disability has less of an impact on degree classification than ethnicity, however BME student with a disability are less likely again to gain a good degree, as shown in this data from the most recent ECU “Equality in higher education: statistical report 2013” :

ecu dis eth 1 ecu dis eth 2

None of this is going to be easy, but if we want to ensure success for all students then it’s an issue we need to tackle head on.

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