Pedagogic Research Centre appointed to investigate the ethnicity degree awarding gap

A University research centre is to carry out a UK-wide exploration of initiatives introduced to tackle the ethnicity degree awarding gap.

woman of colour sat with notebook in front of a laptop

TASO will use the project findings to support better evaluation and an understanding of what works.

At Staffordshire University, we have a commitment to facilitating both social mobility and evidence-based practice in Higher Education. Being awarded this competitive tender from TASO is a reflection of SCoLPP’s excellence in both of these areas.

Dr Annabel Kiernan, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

The Staffordshire Centre of Learning and Pedagogic Practice (SCoLPP) has been appointed by TASO, an independent hub which provides higher education professionals with research, toolkits, and guidance to improve equality across the sector. The project will explore approaches to addressing the gap in 2:1 and 1st class degrees being awarded to white students in comparison to students from other ethnicity groups. Despite increased attention over recent years, this gap remains significant across the sector.

The team, led by Dr Sally Andrews, will review Access and Participation Plans (APPs), explore Higher Education Provider (HEP) websites, and consult with stakeholders to develop a thorough understanding of the experiences and approaches of those working to address the situation. The project will create a typology or classification of interventions and a report outlining the learnings from the project.

The project will involve three distinct phases:

  • Review of Access and Participation Plans (APPs), HEP websites and submissions to the Race Equality Charter to produce the initial typology.
  • Stakeholder interviews and focus groups to gain further understanding of institutional infrastructure, attitudes, and approaches.
  • Refinement of the typology and key themes by an Expert Reference Group, set up as part of the project.

TASO will use the findings as a foundation for future work in this area to supporting better evaluation and an understanding of what works.

Dr Sally Andrews said: “The ethnicity degree awarding gap is a complex problem that universities and other providers across the sector are trying to understand and address, which is what makes this project so important. We are excited to explore the landscape of approaches that will support TASO’s future work in growing and sharing evidence on what works.”

The typology and accompanying report are expected to launch in the Spring/Summer 2023.

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Dr Annabel Kiernan added: “At Staffordshire University, we have a commitment to facilitating both social mobility and evidence-based practice in Higher Education. Being awarded this competitive tender from TASO is a reflection of SCoLPP’s excellence in both of these areas.

“This is important and timely research which is highly likely to uncover some best practice initiatives which universities can adopt moving forwards.”

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