Attainment Gap 2017

Black Attainment Gap Research in HE
Attainment for black students at higher education institutions continues to be an area where there is racial inequality, with non-white students overall less likely to receive higher classifications for their degrees. These stark differences persist after adjustment for entry grades, age, institution and socioeconomic background.

The issue
Our institutions present barriers to and disadvantage those from African, Arab, Asian and Caribbean backgrounds. This has been experienced and understood by students within the NUS Black Students’ Campaign since its inception. These disadvantages are institutional and structural, consisting of indirect forms of exclusion and discrimination as well as direct.

The Black Attainment Gap has been evidenced since at least 2007 as being a persistent, sector-wide issue in higher education institutions. It is referred to by different names at different institutions, including the BME Attainment Gap. It impacts on groups of students with different ethnicities differently, with the widest gap for black African students 27.4% less likely to receive a first or 2:1 at undergraduate level graduating in 2016 than white students.

Different groups of students have very different experiences in Higher Education, and nationally there are very different outcomes on average for different groups likely to self-identify into our Black Students Campaign.

Differences in degree attainment for your institution’s “BME population” by contrast to white students, for example, might mask more significant issues for students with certain heritages, and in specific departments.

Research on how to address the black attainment gap suggests that the solutions can be found locally, taking a multi-faceted approach by trying a variety of different approaches, from decolonising the curriculum to providing mentoring programmes.  We are collecting case studies of examples where students have led on making positive change in this area.

Read our updated briefing on the attainment gap.