The University of Birmingham provides its students with an excellent education. We are rated Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework, and our students’ outcomes are better than the sector in absolute terms in terms of continuation, attainment, and graduate employability. Birmingham students from under-represented groups are as likely (if not more likely) to achieve a First or 2:1 degree classification than the average student at an English university. Student attainment is better than the sector average for each of the four under-represented groups that the Office for Students has highlighted as a priority (Polar 4 Quintile 1, Black Asian and Minority Ethnic groups, mature students, and disabled students).
It is important to note that a relatively large proportion of our Asian and ‘Other’ ethnicity students are studying Medicine and Dentistry degrees. These appear in the downloadable spreadsheet table 1b as ‘degrees that do not lead to a classification’.
The data in table 1a above show that there is an 7.6%pt difference between the proportion of BAME and White students who achieve a First or 2:1 degree classification. There is also an 6.3%pt difference between students from high and low socioeconomic backgrounds (IMD3-5 and 1-2 respectively) on the same measure. Whilst these gaps are smaller than the national position, and our students’ absolute performance in achieving good honours is better than the sector average, we take these gaps seriously and have already identified actions to address the position. Our actions in response are set out below.
The University has committed to implementing the Universities UK framework for addressing the BAME attainment gap, and a number of initiatives supported by the framework are already underway. Our sector-leading Equalities and Diversity Ambassador Scheme is one example of the support we provide. The Scheme supports students to be successful, empowered and to develop a sense of belonging through peer-to-peer networks. Our Academic Skills Centre provides students with their academic transition, progression and attainment through targeted support to develop the academic, digital and study skills needed for successful higher education study. In line with the UUK BAME attainment framework, we are establishing mechanisms for good practice to be shared across the institution and for staff training to take place in priority areas.
Our Birmingham Scholar framework provides a range of targeted, personalised interventions to support specific groups (including BAME students and those from a low socioeconomic background) of applicants, students and recent-graduates who are likely to face additional challenges throughout their student journey.
A key part of the Birmingham Scholar programme is Pathways through Study. Through this framework, we provide further academic support to students (in addition to that available to all students) from disadvantaged and under-represented backgrounds. Our interventions start with support for transition, developing belongingness, wellbeing support on course and the opportunity to develop academic skills that underpin successful study.
Through our Access and Participation Plan, we have committed to reducing the attainment gaps for Black, Asian and POLAR 4 Quintile 1 (broadly equivalent to IMD5) students.