DMU part of winning consortium to tackle BME attainment gap

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has been named as one of a group of six higher education institutions and one college of further education to be awarded £500,000 by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The group will help increase the number of students from black and minority ethnic backgrounds who achieve good honours degrees.

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DMU's Chancellor, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, at the launch of the university's Dare To Be mentoring scheme, helping BAME students achieve their potential

The project, which secured the maximum amount of funding available from HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund, will help identify why fewer black and minority ethnic (BME) students achieve First or 2:1 degrees compared with their fellow white students – a discrepancy known nationally as the BME attainment gap.

Led by Kingston University, the project will explore issues around culture and curriculum in order to help combat this disparity. The other universities involved are University College London, Greenwich, Wolverhampton and Hertfordshire – and further education college, NESCOT.

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The project is funded by the new £7.5million HEFCE Catalyst fund, launched by the Government to address barriers to student success. It was created following research that exposed inequality in higher education achievement among different groups. The programme supports activities already proving to be effective in individual institutions with the aim of replicating good practice and rolling it out to a wider range of higher education providers.

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With all seven institutions contributing match funding, the project – one of only 17 winning bids across the United Kingdom – is predicted to be worth more than £1.1million over a two-year period. The funding will be used to recruit staff to manage and measure the impact of the project and implement initiatives at each institution.

Ben Browne, Chief Operating Officer at DMU, said:Across the sector BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) students encounter barriers to attainment in their programmes of study that are not linked to their ability. DMU is committed to creating a learning environment in which all students have the freedom to succeed - one of the three pillars of DMUfreedom, the university’s equality and diversity strategy.

“This bid provides an opportunity to access a network of like-minded universities to learn from their experiences, develop new ways to enhance the BAME student experience and ensure that all students are able to fulfil their potential.”

By investing in this project, HEFCE will be able to provide a toolkit for the sector drawing on proven best practise from seven institutions.

Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Kingston University, Nona McDuff, said: “We and our seven partners believe an increase in the number of BME students getting good degrees under their belts will help raise aspirations and create role models for future generations,” she added. “It will also go some way to supplying the extra 4.7 million people educated to higher levels that are needed to meet the demands of the UK economy.”

DMU’s involvement is part of a wider programme of work on BAME attainment, including a newly launched mentoring scheme and a new programme of inspirational speakers (DMUTalks). These initiatives will be embedded across the university through the recruitment of Fair Outcome Champions who will support academic colleagues to remove institutional barriers to student attainment.

Posted on Monday 13 March 2017

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