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This event took place on 29th April 2020 at 10:00am (09:00 GMT)

10:00 to 11:30 – Session 1

10:00 Welcome and Introduction

Diane Butler and Trevor Collins, eSTEeM Directors

Opening Address

Nicholas Braithwaite, Executive Dean, STEM Faculty

10:10 Opening Workshop: Addressing Inequitable Outcomes for Black Students at The OU Workshop

Wendy Fowle, John Butcher and Darren Gray, Access, Participation and Success

Evidence from across the sector and institutional data at the Open University suggests differential outcomes for students from different ethnic backgrounds. A student’s ethnicity can amplify disparities that exist within higher education. For example, the gap between the likelihood of white students and students from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME) getting a first or upper-second-class degree was -13 percentage points across the sector in 2017/18. For The OU with our open entry policy and social justice mission the picture is just as stark, if not more alarming.

  • Our BAME student proportion is around 11%, less than half of the sector
  • Our BAME students are less likely to:
    • complete their modules than white students -4.45 (OU) and -6.96 (STEM) percentage point gap in 2017/18
    • pass their module -6.44 (OU) and -6.31 (STEM) percentage point gap in 2017/18
    • achieve a good pass -19.94 (OU) and -17.13 (STEM) percentage point gap in 2017/18

The term BAME is broad and of course is not a single homogenous group, all students are unique. However, breaking figures down further shows a module pass gap between Black students and white students of -13.9 percentage points, and a gap in good module pass (1:1 and 2:1) of -31.1 percentage points in 2017/18.  The size of the gap has persisted for many years and shows no sign of closing.

The emphasis on the BAME degree awarding gap is mirrored across the different UK nations. The OU’s Access and Participation Plan (APP) which is currently awaiting approval by the Office for Students (OfS) requires ambitious targets to be set to reduce these gaps and contribute to their overall elimination. We need to reduce these, not just because the regulator in England is telling us to, but because it is inequitable and a damning indictment of our teaching and student support. So, how are we going to achieve the challenging targets set? 

The Access, Participation and Success (APS) team will lead an interactive session to highlight key data, share experience of their project ‘Closing the Black Attainment Gap’, the APP targets and pathways to success, and implication for The OU on not achieving a reduction in the gaps. The ‘inclusive curriculum tool’ developed by APS will be showcased.

eSTEeM will be working closely with the STEM Boards of Study Group to commission scholarship proposals in the area of BAME attainment across the STEM curriculum and the session will include the development of scholarship ideas to a gain deeper understanding of the issu

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(84 minutes)