Coventry University will lead a project to tackle persistent gaps in degree attainment among students from different backgrounds.
Ongoing independent research has revealed a disparity in the higher education outcomes between different groups including Black and Minority Ethnic, disabled, part-time and mature students.
Researchers at Coventry University say the issue can really only be tackled once institutions stop identifying students by race or background, and instead target support for individuals most at risk of under achieving once they start their degrees.
Coventry has joined Staffordshire, Wolverhampton, and Birmingham City universities and partner colleges CU Coventry, Sixth Form College Solihull, Halesowen College and Stoke on Trent College to take action on the disparity over the next two years.
The universities will work together and with partner colleges to share best practice and look at how student support is offered in different ways across the sector.
Learning from the colleges where this attainment gap is generally much smaller, universities can offer more tailored student support and closely monitor attainment to help all students reach their full potential.
The £1million project will include engaging with newly enrolled students and using data to track those most at risk of becoming disengaged so that measures can be put in place to foster a stronger sense of belonging and integration.
Christine Broughan, Professor of Higher Education at Coventry University said:
This is an excellent example of the region working together to tackle social injustice and using education as a vehicle to address inequality.
This is a very complex issue which needs to see incremental changes across many areas. However, addressing a single element in isolation will not lead to sustained change for students or universities.”
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) announced a £375,000 investment for the project as part of its Addressing Barriers to Student Success programme to help tackle the causes of these disparities.
The two-year project will build on work already being done regionally to look into attainment and equality with the remaining funds being met by investment from each of the partner universities.
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