BME Student Attainment

Previous blog posts have looked at the attainment of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) student attainment. At Staffordshire University, we will be carrying out more work in this area, as part of our drive to improve student attainment, recognising that students who succeed in their studies and gain good degrees, are more likely to gain good graduate jibs. This is clearly a benefit for the individual student, but also for the institution as it will have a positive effect on our league table position.

Previously we have looked at the attainment gap between white and non white students, and seen that the gap in our university is similar to that nationally.

Recently the Equality Challenge Unit published its “Equality in higher education: statistical report 2013”, which has the following headlines:

  • 17.7% – The difference between the proportion of white qualifiers receiving a first or 2:1 and the proportion of black and minority ethnic qualifiers receiving a first or 2:1.

There is a persistent gap in the degree attainment for students with different ethnicities, although this has decreased for the second consecutive year.

However, when we analysed the figures closely we found the gap differed widely depending on the age of the student:

  • 8.6% – ethnicity attainment gap for students 21 and under.
  • 26.3% – ethnicity attainment gap for students 36 and over.

The pattern is repeated for disabled students, although less pronounced:

  • 2.5% – disability attainment gap for students 21 and under.
  • 6.9% – disability attainment gap for students 36 and over.

A significant drop in the numbers of mature students applying to university has been widely reported. If older students are less likely to receive a good degree, more may decide that going to university isn’t worth their while. It seems clear that more needs to be done to support and retain this group of students.

So for our own data for 2012-13, we need to consider age as well as ethnicity, and when considering disability (where we had hardly any gap at all in 2011-12l) we will also build in age to the analysis.

To support work across the university on addressing this challenge, this year’s Learning and Teaching Conference on 1st July 2014 will have  a keynote speech on the attainment gap, and ways to tackle it, delivered by Dr Winston Morgan of UEL – put it in your diaries now!