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9th eSTEeM Annual Conference
Day 1
Diane Butler Deputy Director eSTEeM, Dr Trevor Collins PhD

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

10:00 to 11:30Session 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 issue.

11:30 End of session 1

Live stream resumes at 16:00

16:00 to 16:45 – Session 2

16:00 Day One Closing Keynote: Addressing Disparities in Student Success - Enhancing BAME students' achievement

Prof Phil Gravestock, University of Wolverhampton

The gap in higher education degree attainment between UK-domiciled white students and Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students has been prevalent for over 10 years. The extent of the gap becomes more explicit when the BAME categories are considered separately, with Black students showing the greatest gap in attainment compared with white students. This disparity in award outcomes for students from different ethnic groups has been highlighted by the Office for Students as a specific target that the higher education sector has to address.

The diversity of students entering higher education means that it is hard to provide appropriate support to ensure that all students: develop a sense of belonging; make meaningful learning relationships; and acquire the appropriate academic skills to meet the assessment requirements to allow transition into subsequent academic levels.

This presentation will reflect upon research that has been undertaken as part of national projects – such as ‘Disparities in Student Attainment (DiSA)’, ‘What Works?’, ‘DRIVER, Data Responsive Initiatives as a Vehicle for achieving Equity in Results’ and ‘Value-added’ – to enhance BAME students’ attainment, success and progression.

16:30 eSTEeM Scholarship Projects of the Year Awards

Awards for the Scholarship Projects of the Year in two categories: Innovative/Original Approach to Teaching, and Enhancing the Student Experience.

Day one closing remarks by Nicholas Braithwaite.

16:45 End

Select from replays below

10:00 am Session 1
   Diane Butler Deputy Director eSTEeM, The Open University
   Dr Trevor Collins PhD, KMi, The Open University
4:00 pm Session 2
   Dr Trevor Collins PhD, KMi, The Open University
   Diane Butler Deputy Director eSTEeM, The Open University

The webcast was open to 400 users