In February 2017 Bristol SU launched the BME Attainment Gap Project. This project was commissioned by 2016/17 Equality, Liberation and Access Officer Hannah Dualeh and aimed to identify possible reasons for the existence of the BME attainment gap at the University of Bristol by exploring the experiences of BME students at the institution.
Nationally, the BME attainment gap stood at 13% in 2017, with nearly 80% of white students awarded a first class or 2:1 degree, compared with 66% of BME students (Source). At the University of Bristol 31% of white students in 2015/16 graduated with a first class degree, compared to 20% of BME students. BME students were also more likely to graduate with a 2:2 classification (14% compared to 7% of white students).
The project followed a mixed methodology consisting of an online survey of 240 students, two focus groups conducted with 14 students and a Facebook photo diary conducted with 11 students over an 8 week period. The findings of the report were presented to the University of Bristol's Student Experience Committee, and many of the recommendations are now being implemented.
The research found that BME students often experienced feelings of isolation, and a majority felt that BME representation within the student and staff body was poor. 55% of survey respondents felt that BME representation in the student body was extremely or relatively bad and 67% felt that BME representation in the academic staff body was extremely or relatively bad. 18% reported feeling that the teaching and learning environment was cliquey and isolating and only 5% of students described their teaching and learning environment as diverse. Awareness of equality policies was low, with 50% of respondents unaware of the Unacceptable Behaviour policy, through which students could make a complaint of racism or discrimination.
Below you can read a full report of the findings of the research. If you have any questions about this research you can get in touch with our Research and Evaluation Coordinator Alice Phillips (firstname.lastname@example.org).