Past Event details

Addressing and eradicating racial disparities in higher education

Monday, 10 June 2019

Within UK higher education (HE) the gaps in racial inequality in relation to success in, and progression from, HE remain persistent and extensive. For many of those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME[1]) backgrounds, opportunities to attain equitable outcomes remain restricted. In part these barriers are structural, whilst experiences of the school system, educational outcomes, and experiences of racism are also contributory factors. In addition, explanatory factors located within higher education sector include those related to curricula and learning; relationships between staff and students and among students; social, cultural and economic capital; and psychosocial and identity factors. Although ethnic inequalities in HE have been known about for some time, even among HE policymakers the focus has sometimes been on too narrow (or even the wrong) metrics, for example on access rather than on retention and progression. However understanding and responding to racial inequalities requires more than gathering data. Any racial inequalities require explanation, and ultimately will require HE providers and individuals to change their practices to ensure equality of opportunity and outcomes in HE.


This one day event will:

  • Offer insights into racial disparities and their effects over the lifecourse, as well as the potential role of HE in either ameliorating or compounding disadvantage
    Dr Omar Khan, Director, Runnymede Trust

  • Provide an oversight of recent research exploring the problematic nature of overcoming the challenges of targeting students from ethnic backgrounds
    Dr Joan O’ Mahony, Senior Advisor, Student Retention and Success, AdvanceHE
  • Explore approaches to 'decolonising the curriculum' in particular the question: 'does content really matter?'
    Dr Meera Sabaratnam, senior lecturer and Chair, Decolonising SOAS Working Group, SOAS University of London


Participants will be encouraged to explore:

  • How we can overcome barriers to good data collection, and ensure that collecting more data doesn’t prevent action
  • How we can practically ensure that actions are co-ordinated and have buy-in across the university, from admissions to university department heads, to vice chancellor groups to students
  • How we can ensure that any action is equitable, ethical and is focused on the actual and not the assumed concerns of students


[1] We recognise that this is a problematic and reductionist term to describe a population that is highly diverse 

Network: Access and Widening Participation
Date(s): Monday, 10 June 2019
Times: 11:00 - 16:00
Location: SRHE, 73 Collier St, London N1 9BE
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