Improving Black, Asian and minority ethnic students’ access to postgraduate research projects

These 13 projects were funded to:

  • improve access into research
  • enhance research culture and the experience for Black, Asian and minority ethnic postgraduate research (PGR) students
  • diversify and enhance routes into a range of careers.

Equity in Doctoral Education through Partnership and Innovation (EDEPI)

Lead: Nottingham Trent University

Partners:

  • Liverpool John Moores University
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • UK Council for Graduate Education
  • Grit Break Through Programmes
  • Nottingham University Hospital Trust
  • NHS R&D North West
  • Health Education England, North West
  • Sheffield Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Trust.

Funding: £703,957

This project will improve access and participation for racialised groups to PGR, across three modern universities. It will target recruitment, admissions and transition as critical points of systemic inequality in doctoral education.

The project will co-develop and implement a new, work-based partnership approach to PGR recruitment and pilot this with the NHS. The project will co-produce a novel competency-based PGR admissions framework through national consultation with all major stakeholders, in partnership with the UK Council for Graduate Education, and will deliver a large-scale pilot and evaluation of the new framework.  A bespoke coaching programme will be co-created for PGR, supervisors, and professional service staff.

Social Transformation and Advocacy through Research (STAR)

University of East London

Funding: £368,424

This project will develop a career pathway that leads from school to postgraduate research and create routes into research training and careers in the community, voluntary and public sectors.

The project will build an innovative research training programme, through antiracist training in research. The training will link to four complementary offshoot projects, building student support links between postgraduate and undergraduate students, as well as links between university students and local schools.

The offshoot projects will also build a research training pathway for professionals working in creative industries, community projects and allied health professions and embed research skills in the community and voluntary sector.

Generation Delta: Nurturing future cohorts of Black, Asian and minority ethnic female professors

Lead: The University of Leeds

Partners:

  • Goldsmiths College, University of London
  • University of Reading
  • University of Plymouth
  • The University of Sheffield
  • The University of Sunderland.

Funding: £797,264

This project will be led by six Black, Asian and minority ethnic female professors and will lay the foundations for a long-term increase in the number of Black, Asian and minority ethnic female professors in higher education institutions in England.

The project will address both institutional and individual barriers experienced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic women at different stages of the PGR life cycle, through the delivery of a programme of training and strategic advice that recognises the impact of intersecting inequalities on access and progression in academic careers.

It will build upon and create networks for Black, Asian and minority ethnic female PGR students. The project will deliver an active intervention to improve the practical experiences and outcomes for Black, Asian and minority ethnic female students through three key phases of the PGR lifecycle:

  • access
  • retention and progression
  • training for careers.

The Shine Scholars Programme: Fixing the broken pipeline

University of Surrey

Funding: £396,000

This project will provide Black British students with the resources, support and environment necessary to achieve excellence and pursue rich and rewarding careers after graduation.

The project will aim to increase numbers and the proportion of UK-domiciled Black PGR students, through an internship scheme, undergraduate mentoring and race equity training for staff.

To enhance the postgraduate research experience, fully funded PhD positions will be provided, with additional opportunities, such as summer school, mentoring, reverse mentoring, placements, teaching qualifications and career advice. The project will review support for researcher development, to build an inclusive practice in which PGR students from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds can thrive.

That’s me!: Eliminating barriers to postgraduate research study in the West Midlands

Lead: University of Wolverhampton and Birmingham City University

Partners:

  • Arthur Terry Learning Partnership
  • Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  • City of Wolverhampton Council
  • University of Wolverhampton Multi Academy Trust
  • NIHR Clinical Research Network
  • Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce
  • C Brandauer and Co. Ltd
  • The Active Wellbeing Society, Birmingham
  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • West Midlands Combined Authority
  • City of Wolverhampton College
  • Black Country Chamber of Commerce
  • Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust
  • Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Funding: £798,667

This project will operate in the West Midlands to eliminate barriers for students from Black and minority ethnic groups and communities to successfully access postgraduate research. It will focus on three large key professional and practice-based subjects that cross-cut and underpin professional practice within many sectors:

  • health professions
  • education
  • business and law.

The project aims to eliminate barriers to access to PGR by tackling university cultures and processes, creating an enabling regional employment environment, and facilitating outstanding supervisory and peer support, geared towards championing successful research and researcher careers.

Activity will improve access to research degrees from undergraduate, taught postgraduate and professionals wishing to return to research study. Interventions include process and culture change, an open educational resource, communities of practice and an allies hub.

Postgraduate Research Opportunities for the North East/Network for Equity (pro:NE)

Lead: Durham University

Partners:

  • Newcastle University
  • Newcastle Psychological Therapies Clinic
  • Northumbria University
  • The University of Sunderland
  • Teesside University.

Funding: £798,972

This project brings together five universities in the north-east of England to widen access and promote outcomes for prospective and current students and staff of colour in postgraduate research, to deliver a programme with four key strands. These are:

  • mental health: a specialist clinical pathway will be developed within Newcastle Psychological Therapies clinic for students of colour, offering culturally competent and responsive services
  • mentoring: a peer mentoring service where students and staff of colour build relationships and community, and a reciprocal mentoring service pairing early career researchers with senior leaders to support mutual learning and support
  • development of services across the network, including leadership training, shadowing and networking opportunities and an annual conference
  • admissions: an innovative admissions pilot and evaluation that blinds multiple sections of the PGR application process alongside policy and practice reviews.

The project has been developed by staff and students of colour to improve wellbeing outcomes and the number of people of colour accessing and thriving in postgraduate research work and study.

Developing fair selection models for historically marginalised postgraduate research students at Oxford and Cambridge

Lead: University of Cambridge and University of Oxford

Partners:

  • Blueprint for All
  • CRAC Ltd (The Careers Research and Advisory Centre)

Funding: £799,470

This project will seek to disrupt persistent inequalities for postgraduate students. Traditional admissions practices have historically focused on past experience as much as assessing potential. The project will generate new admissions practices that are equitable and reflective of wider society.

Following a critical review of existing approaches and analysis of good practice across the sector, the project will engage with key stakeholders to co-develop a range of new, fair postgraduate admissions processes and tools. These will be tailored to different disciplines and rooted in a benefits-led, rather than a deficit-led, approach to applicant selection.

The aim is to halve the current ‘offer gap’ in pilot sites by the end of 2025, with an aspiration to eliminate the gap altogether within one school generation (by 2035). This is essential to the ambition to develop a socially just and equitable postgraduate research environment in England.

Transitions and Transformations: Black Researcher’s Journey

Lead: University of Essex

Partners:

  • Vitae (parent organisation CRAC)
  • Olivedon (Gradintelligence platform)
  • Diverse Minds
  • The Brilliant Club
  • Open Innovation Team.

Funding: £365,367

This project aims to boost postgraduate research access, participation, and good outcomes for UK-domiciled Black students through a set of environment-changing interventions.

The project focuses on structured longitudinal research exposure and engagement, research training, and network building, all concentrated around periods of transition in the academic journey (undergraduate dissertation, Masters dissertation, PhD thesis).

These interventions will be delivered through an innovative Black researcher programme that comprises sequenced activities organised and supported by a digital machine-learning platform, together with a new equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) training model and a transferrable model for evaluation.

The new EDI training model for decision-makers, professional services staff and academics will focus on opportunities and barriers in Black students’ research journey, as well as a transferrable model for the evaluation of such interventions.

The University of Sheffield Centre for Equity and Inclusion

Lead: The University of Sheffield

Partners:

  • MA Education Consultancy
  • Our Mel
  • Sheffield and District African and Caribbean Community Association (SADACCA)
  • The Lit Collective Sheffield
  • African Voices Platform
  • Sheffield Anti-Racist Education (SHARE).

Funding: £390,450

This project will create longitudinal, systemic, and structural change at the university, establishing a network composed of Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic PGR students, University of Sheffield academics, and local partners working for equity and racial justice. The network will facilitate culture change at the university to improve BAME PGR students’ experience by:

  • enhancing Black, Asian and minority ethnic PGR students’ professional development and sense of community via a specialised mentoring scheme
  • increasing student and staff knowledge about racial inequality via specialised training led by experts in equity and inclusion
  • fostering knowledge exchange between academia and the broader community, by funding projects co-developed by Black, Asian and minority ethnic PGR students and community partners with expertise in social and racial justice
  • developing spaces for reflection, self-care, creativity, and the expression of alternative visions for the academy, through a community archive programme and other extra-curricular activities
  • identifying, critiquing, and challenging inequality and racism via co-produced projects involving all centre participants, including co-producing language that reflects an understanding, whilst also limiting the phenomena of racism and its reproduction.

Bradford Pathways to Academia for Minoritised Ethnicities: Brad-ATTAIN

Lead: The University of Bradford

Partners:

  • City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
  • Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Working Academy
  • Emerald Publishing
  • Stronger Communities, Bradford for Everyone
  • Simply Customer
  • Digital Health Enterprise zone.

Funding: £399,926

Working with partners across the Bradford District, this programme will develop positive action pathways to support progression to PGR study for Black, Asian and minority ethnic students to build a vibrant, inclusive community of Black, Asian and minority ethnic researchers as leaders and influencers.

The project will create opportunities for Black, Asian and minority ethnic students by stimulating innovation and scaling up and/or distributing effective practice. Progression will be facilitated by our approach to ambitiously address evidenced issues of inequality and structural barriers across the PGR student lifecycle, and through strategic collaboration internally and externally to the university to build cultural competence and embed EDI to improve access and participation for Black, Asian and minority ethnic students.

The project will deliver inclusive employment and recruitment practices fundamentally transforming organisational culture.

In2research: Building a scalable PGR access and progression programme for BAME students

Lead: University College London

Partners:

  • In2scienceUK
  • UCL Students’ Union
  • University of Cambridge
  • City University
  • Leading Routes (part of the Ubele initiative)
  • UPSIGN.

Funding: £789,943

This project will address inequalities across the postgraduate research student lifecycle and the barriers that exist for students from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups – particularly for UK-domiciled students from Black British, British Pakistani and British Bangladeshi backgrounds, who are most acutely marginalised in PGR study and academic careers.

The project will recruit over 300 student participants to engage in a 12-month mentoring and development programme, including an eight-week, paid research placement with experienced academics and mentors.

The project will strengthen students’ applications to postgraduate programmes, build knowledge and skills to navigate inequalities in higher education and research, increase networking opportunities, and extend support through an alumni community.

It will also promote institutional culture change through training for staff who supervise, train or support Black, Asian and minority ethnic PGR students.

Accomplished Study Programme in Research Excellence (ASPIRE) for Black students: Fixing the broken pipeline

Lead: Sheffield Hallam University

Partners:

  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Advance HE.

Funding: £337,612

This project will develop the capabilities of Black students to navigate structural barriers to doctoral study and enhance pathways of opportunity, through inclusive targeting. The four key aims of the project are:

  • develop an impactful, inclusive, targeted research mentorship and well-being programme designed specifically to meet the racialised needs of Black students interested in accessing doctoral level study
  • evaluate the ways in which structural barriers to the access of doctoral level study for Black students can be overcome through participation in ASPIRE
  • determine whether participation in ASPIRE leads to improved work-readiness of Black students to access doctoral level study
  • improve the understanding of PGR supervisors of the specific, racialised needs of Black students interested in accessing doctoral study and the ways in which Black students can be best supported.

Continuous improvement will lead to the development of a framework that can be adapted and adopted by other universities seeking to attract Black students into doctoral level study.

Yorkshire Consortium for Equity in Doctoral Education (YCEDE)

Lead: University of York

Partners:

  • The University of Sheffield
  • University of Leeds
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • University of Bradford.

Funding: £799,514

This project will tackle ethnic inequalities in access to postgraduate research by systems-change innovations that re-shape institutional policies and procedures. Five Yorkshire universities will reform their admissions criteria and practices, involving work on the efficacy of taken-for-granted criteria as predictors of PGR success.

The project will take a whole pipeline approach supporting candidates to apply for PGR programmes, enhancing the on-course experience of PGRs of colour.

Bespoke mentoring and training will develop a strong community of staff and PGRs with knowledge, confidence and leadership skills, so the pipeline flows beyond university.

The project will rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and share innovation and best practice widely to enhance opportunities nationwide.

Last updated: 1 March 2022

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