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Universities to Address the Nurturing Gap Between Bame and White

A report by the National Union of Students and the Universities UK group suggests that bridging the “degree gap” between black, Asian, and minority ethnic students and their white counterparts requires a cultural shift between British universities and their leaders. The report calls for strong leadership from vice chancellors and principals to encourage racially diverse workforces and student bodies. It also emphasizes that race issues should be addressed as part of broader, strategic organizational practice.

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Over the past decade, despite the rise in BAME students, only 57% of Asian and 71% of black students achieved an upper second or first in their undergraduate degrees, compared to 81% of white students. Black students are also 1.5 times more likely to drop out.

Universities UK (UUK) and the National Union of Students (NUS) have launched a joint initiative to identify best practices in addressing the attainment gap between ethnic groups in higher education. The report suggests that lower proportions of black or Asian students who achieve the same level of results as their white peers achieve a first or 2:1 at all grade boundaries. The initiative will be informed by evidence-gathering sessions and online survey data from students and staff.

Baroness Valerie Amos, director of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, emphasized the pressing issue of many students from BME backgrounds who face challenges in university and many drop out, highlighting the need to eliminate these barriers and ensure success for students from all backgrounds.

Cambridge University is set to investigate its links to the slave trade during the colonial era. The university, like many large British institutions, may have benefited from and contributed to these practices, either financially or through gifts.

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*The panel is interested in how scholars at the university shaped public and political opinion, supporting and contesting racial attitudes that are now repugnant in the 21st century. Cambridge Vice-Chancellor Toope believes there is growing public and academic interest in the links between older British universities and the slave trade, and that the university should look into its own exposure to the profits of coerced labor during the colonial period.

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