University Alliance Sandpit: Supporting and enabling BME Student Success through the Lifecycle

17th June 2019, Falmer Campus

University of Brighton

Brighton pier



Creative Commons Licence
Brighton by Berit Watkin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


In 2015-16 78.8% of the white graduates from English universities were awarded a first class or upper second class degree compared with just 63.2% from Black and Minority Ethic (BME) groups. Students from BME backgrounds are also more likely to leave university without finishing their course. These differences cannot be explained by socio-economic factors or prior academic attainment which suggests that reasons for the gap are situated within the university environment itself.

This Equality Challenge Unit states:

“Action needs to focus on institutional barriers and inequalities, rather than ‘improving’ or ‘fixing’ the student. Traditionally the language of the attainment gap has focused on students’ underachievement or lack of attainment, whereas it should focus on the institutional culture, curriculum and pedagogy”

This ‘sandpit’ event offers the opportunities for students, academics, support staff and others from University Alliance universities to work together to evaluate current practices and explore how this gap can be eradicated. Participants will work in small groups with colleagues in different roles and in different universities to put together a plan of action.

From each University Alliance institution we would like about five participants to attend – these could be academic staff, undergraduate or postgraduate students, support staff and Student Union representatives. We are particularly keen to have participants from BME backgrounds.


“EQUALITY IS NOT AN OPTIONAL EXTRA” – University Alliance comment on UUK BAME Attainment Report

About the Teaching Excellence Alliance

The TEA Programme is now in its second full year with a new director, Dr Sal Jarvis, PVC at the University of Hertfordshire, and deputies Professors Dawne Gurbutt (UCLAN) and Jackie Potter (Oxford Brookes). They are working with us to set up a programme of exciting events to look forward to.

In March, Dr Louise Bunce from Oxford Brookes chaired a productive webinar on the subject of ‘Addressing the Attainment Gap for BAME Students’, which can be accessed on OneHE, the TEA’s networking site. Further exploration of student outcomes and inclusive approaches will take place at our Sandpit event on 17th June at the University of Brighton, which is open to all subscribing TEA institutions.  Additional Webinar and Sandpit events are planned for the next few months and we welcome suggestions for future contributions.

To find out more about these events, and the other work we do, visit our website or sign up to OneHE for free. If you would like more information or you have an idea for a future event, get in touch.

The following institutions are members of the University Alliance:

UWE Bristol
University of Lincoln
University of Greenwich
University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)
University of Brighton
Ulster University
The Open University
Teesside University
University of South Wales
Sheffield Hallam University
University of Salford
University of Portsmouth
Plymouth University
Oxford Brookes University
Nottingham Trent University
Manchester Metropolitan University
Liverpool John Moores University
Kingston University
University of Huddersfield
University of Hertfordshire
Coventry University

News: BME students have a less satisfactory experience than white students

This quote from the Wonkhe comment on the  just published 2019 Student Academic Experience Survey

Across the key measures of value-for-money, learning gain, meeting expectations and access to teaching staff, the BME student experience is less satisfactory overall. Though value-for-money has also increased among BME students – from 28 per cent in 2018 to 34 per cent in 2019 – there is a gap of 9 per cent as compared with white students. For the second year running the survey examines the experience of different ethnic groups within the BME category, finding Asian and Chinese students tend to have the least satisfactory experience. The authors highlight that the evidence base for changing the provision of support services to reflect the changing demographics of students and investing in more tailored approaches to providing information to help BME students feel more prepared for university life is more compelling than ever.