The black, minority and ethnic student experience at a small Northern University
Chantal Davies (University of Chester)
Introduction Background Research Description and Project Rationale Existing Research Methodology Findings Implications
Background Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 (N/B Equality Act 2010) Small body of existing research (Osler, 1999; Connor et al., 2004; Givens et al., 1999; Mai Sims, 2007; Jessop & Williams, 2009) Higher Education Academy & Equalities Challenge Unit recommendations, 2008
Research Description and ProjectRationale Exploration of experiences of BME students within the research site Support and build on existing research Provide an evidential base for University diversity and equality strategies in relation to: Student achievement; Retention and progression; Widening participation, marketing and recruitment; Student transitions to H.E.; Curriculum design and development
Existing Research Belonging and otherness (Read et al., 2003) Ethnic minority visibility in university staffing (Connor et al, 2004) The student experience of racism (Givens & Bennett, 2004; Woolf, Cave, Greenhalgh & Dacre, 2008) Curriculum development and content (Bowl, 2001; Givens et al., 1999) Stereotyping (Woolf et al., 2008; Connor et al., 2004; Carter, Fenton & Modood, 1999)
Methodology Multi-layered, qualitative exploration of the experiences of BME students at the research institution Emancipatory and participatory BME researcher/reflexivity Steering Group (Jessop & Williams, 2009) Focus Groups Semi Structured Interviews Sampling: Purposive sample; Undergraduate students across the research institution; Self certification.
Emerging Themes Belonging/Togetherness Institutional heterogeneity not a driver in choice of university Objective benefits of ethnic diversity Transient and long term awareness of ‘white demographic’ Academic Experience Mainstreaming of ethnic diversity issues Awkwardness in discussing diversity issues linked to ethnic identity Detachment from ethnic identity
Emerging Themes Student Experience Wider student experience (including extra curricula activities, developing friendships, locality etc) Little impact on wider general experience Catering issues Differential Treatment Less favourable treatment due to ethnicity (including racism) No perception of overt racism (note of caution) Modification of the behaviour of peers/staff due to ethnicity
Emerging Themes Segregation Feelings of segregation and differentiation due to targeted provision based on ethnicity Some objective benefits of targeted provision Detachment from linking to ethnic identity Early Education The ‘London’ perspective The ‘Local’ perspective Employability Impact on future employability
Some Implications for the StudentExperience and Academic Practice Managing student expectations of ethnic diversity from an institutional perspective particularly in relation to widening participation and marketing strategies Developing academic programmes of study based on inclusive learning and teaching strategies Developing a greater understanding of institutional responsibilities in relation to feelings of differentiation, isolation and segregation Developing and implementing institutional local level strategies for BME student achievement, retention and progression Developing student engagement and transition strategies
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