Baroness Doreen Lawrence has helped launch a “vitally important” mentoring scheme to help black, Asian and minority ethnic students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
Baroness Lawrence, the Chancellor of DMU, said the new initiative – which will see dozens of university staff, alumni and honorands paired up with students to help build confidence and talk through experiences – was a way to help ensure all students could achieve their potential.
At a launch event held at DMU’s newly-refurbished Campus Centre, Baroness Lawrence said: “Mentoring is so important. We always need mentoring, no matter what we’re doing in life. I would not have been able to achieve what I have without my tutors.
“I congratulate De Montfort University on this initiative. I am proud to be part of this and I am its biggest advocate.”
The Dare To Be Mentoring scheme is part of a broader project aimed at addressing the academic attainment gap among black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) students compared with the DMU average.
Dozens of DMU staff have volunteered to be Dare To Be mentors, from senior managers and academic staff to alumni and honorands. At the launch event, mentors met mentees, getting to know each other through a series of themed discussions.
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Vice-Chancellor Professor Dominic Shellard also spoke at the launch, together with Kaushika Patel, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, and Ben Browne, Chief Operating Officer. There were also discussions between mentors and mentees.
Professor Shellard said: “In the UK, there is an unacceptable gap in the marks received by white students compared to some sections of the BAME community.
“It is our moral duty to deal with this. It is absolutely not about aptitude, or about one group being more talented than another. This is about environment, this is about context. This is about the ability to be free to achieve.”
The mentoring scheme is a pilot project will run until June. This pilot will then be evaluated with a view to launching a more embedded scheme in September.
Final year Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science student Fatma Mohamed Thakar has signed up to be mentored under the scheme.
The 22-year-old said the advice and support was “too good an opportunity to ignore”.
She said: “This is an amazing platform. Having someone with a different perspective showing students the opportunities available to them will make a big difference.
“All students can find coming to university challenging and for BAME students there is the added difficulty of language barriers or cultural differences.
“But this scheme can break that down, help people gain confidence and see what’s out there.”
Jit Pandya, Community Partnerships Officer at DMU, has volunteered to be a mentor.
He said: “As a former BAME student myself I know there are many reasons an attainment gap exists and it’s about where you are from, whether you are the first person in your family to go to university, the expectations put on you, your religion or faith, the differences in culture.
“So I want to be able to share what I have learnt and help someone build a confidence in themselves through being a mentor.”
Posted on Thursday 16th February 2017