Skip to content

University of Bradford part of £4.9m bid to boost BAME postgrads

Published:

A student in a laboratory

Projects aim to create a legacy that will change perceptions and enrich research 

The University of Bradford has been successful with two bids funded jointly by the Office for Students and Research England to help increase access and participation for black, Asian and minority ethnic groups in postgraduate research study. 

The bids include a £1.3m project to be run solely at the University and a £3.6m Yorkshire-wide project, to which the University will contribute £118,000.

In the UK, white undergraduates are more likely to be awarded a first-class degree. Even at the University of Bradford, where 70% of taught students are BAME, the figures (averaged over five years) show this to be the case, with 71.3% of Asian, 68.7% of black, compared to 85.6% of white undergraduates being awarded 2:1 or first class degrees. 

This awarding gap reproduces inequality at postgraduate level where ‘good’ degrees are favoured in the application process.  

To address this issue, the University will launch two projects, one based within the University of Bradford and working with local partners, and a second that will be in partnership with four other universities in the region. 

Brad-ATTAIN 

Brad-ATTAIN (Bradford Pathways to Academia for Minoritised Ethnicities) is a £1.3m project based in the University of Bradford which will bring together partners from across the region. 

It will support internships for undergraduates to give them an understanding of what postgraduate research involves. Some 24 interns will each undertake a 10-week placement over four years. 

There will also be special ‘research summer schools’ to showcase postgraduate research to undergraduates and students from outside the University, with provision for travel costs, refreshments and keynote speakers. 

The events will be designed to increase students’ interest in postgraduate study, by encouraging networking, developing original research ideas and conducting fieldwork, together with an annual student ‘boot camp’, where staff and students can share and evaluate experiences. 

The project will be led by Prof Udy Archibong MBE who is Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equality Diversity and Inclusion and directs the UoB’s Centre for Inclusion and Diversity. She is Fellow of the West African College of Nursing and Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing and sits on Advance HE’s Athena Swan Governance Committee. 

Prof Archibong said: “The lack of BAME postgraduates means the research community does not benefit from diverse research perspectives. In addition, the lack of visibility of BAME academic staff is something which has been identified by students through our own consultation events. At the heart of Brad-ATTAIN is the drive to develop a sustainable, evidence based and community-embedded model of practice which addresses this gap and which is transferable across the HE sector as a whole. 

“Brad-ATTAIN will increase the access and participation of black, Asian and minority ethnic students in postgraduate study to make diversity counts, and that delivers impact through increased representation in academic and research across the region. 

YCEDE 

The University of Bradford is also a member of a consortium of universities in Yorkshire that has been successful in its bid to spearhead a £3.6m project which also aims to dramatically increase the number of BAME postgraduates. 

Yorkshire Consortium for Equity in Doctoral Education (YCEDE) will be led by the University of York in partnership with the University of Bradford, University of Sheffield, University of Leeds and Sheffield Hallam University, all of which have committed to long-term co-funding arrangements to ensure the project continues after its initial five-year phase. 

The University of Bradford will commit £118,000 to the project, via a series of mentoring support sessions. 

The primary aim of YCEDE, is to tackle race/ethnic inequalities in postgraduate research by reshaping policies and procedures. In doing so, it will draw inspiration from US programmes where there is established practice and evidence, specifically the California Consortium for Inclusive Doctoral Education (C-CIDE) - this will involve direct training and advice from C-CIDE associates in the USA. 

It will also involve mentoring, organising internships, summer schools and ‘boot camps’, all of which will be designed to overcome barriers to postgraduate entry. 

Prof Archibong will co-lead one of the YCEDE workstreams, which will look specifically at mentoring postgraduate students throughout their academic journey, and she will be the first chair of the project’s management board. 

Professor Shirley Congdon, University of Bradford Vice-Chancellor, said: “Both YCEDE and Brad-ATTAIN have been informed by the University of Bradford’s vision of a world of inclusion and equality of opportunity, where diversity is a source of strength, is valued, supported and leveraged. We are committed to ensuring people want to and can make a difference, and we want to be the place to make that difference. 

“We already have a strong track record in raising attainment levels and increasing social mobility - these projects can only strengthen our commitment to making sure everyone has opportunities and the ability to take advantage of those with confidence.”  

Background

Nationally, 13 new projects will attempt to tackle persistent inequalities that create barriers for Black, Asian and minority ethnic students to access and take part in postgraduate research (PGR). 

The projects, worth nearly £8 million, are innovative in scope, scale and focus to an extent that has not been seen in England before. Delivered over the next four years, they will improve access into research, enhance research culture and the experience for black, Asian and minority ethnic PGR students, and diversify and enhance routes into a range of careers.  

The investment, by Research England – part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – and the Office for Students (OfS), is well spread geographically, across English higher education providers and their partners.

Kersten England CBE, Chief Executive, Bradford Council, said: “I’m delighted both as a member of the council of the University and Chief Executive of Bradford Council that we have been successful in securing funding for this important programme. Brad-ATTAIN’s District-wide partnership shares a commitment to social justice, equality and inclusion. This programme furthers these objectives by supporting talented students from underrepresented black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds to progress their academic studies at postgraduate level.”

Professor John Wright, Director, Bradford Institute for Health Research, said: ““This is an important programme to build a fairer and more inclusive future for researchers. Half of our 15,000 Born in Bradford children are from ethnic minority communities and we hope that this will allow some of them to become world-leading scientists.”

Research England’s Director Research, Steven Hill, said: “Persistent inequalities occur throughout higher education for black, Asian and minority ethnic students. Some of the inequalities that exist for black, Asian and minority ethnic undergraduate students, such as the current gap in degree outcomes between white students and black students of 22.1 percentage points are reflected in the underrepresentation of black, Asian and minority ethnic students in postgraduate research (PGR) students. 

“PGR students are also researchers and teachers, and play an important role in supporting the research and academic talent pipeline. Supporting access and successful participation for black, Asian and minority ethnic PGR students through these 13 innovative projects is crucial, both to improve opportunities for current generations, and to increase the diversity of talent into academic careers, which has been identified as important to addressing attainment gaps.”

Director for fair access and participation at the Office for Students, Chris Millward, said: “Black, Asian and minority ethnic students have high levels of participation in undergraduate education, but they are less likely to secure the top degree grades and go on to postgraduate research.  This then affects their representation among academic staff, particularly at senior levels.  

“The projects will ambitiously tackle the issues causing underrepresentation of black, Asian and minority ethnic students in postgraduate research, with the aim of stimulating innovation and developing effective practice for universities and colleges throughout the country. This is vital, so that postgraduate research in this country can benefit from the talents of people from all backgrounds.”

Factfile 

  • Universities in Yorkshire contribute £2.9bn each year to the region’s economy and play a critical role in creating jobs, innovation, talent, and enterprise and driving productivity. 
  • Annually over 196,000 students study in higher education institutions in Yorkshire. Most research activity within the region is concentrated in the five YCEDE partners.  
  • During the pandemic, of £4.3m of funding provided by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to examine the relationship between Covid and ethnicity, £0 was allocated to black academic leads. 
  • At the University of Bradford 32% of PGR supervisors are BAME staff. 

« Back to news from 2021