Coventry University launches Race Xchange to investigate and improve university experience for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students

A head and shoulders image of Dr Emmanuel Johnson in a grasduation gown and cap

Dr Emmanuel Johnson, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Global Learning at Coventry University

University news / Research news

Wednesday 25 October 2023

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Coventry University has launched a new project which focuses on researching barriers in the higher education sector and improving the university experiences of both students and academic staff from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Co-led with Warwick University, the Race Xchange is particularly focused on Post Graduate Research (PGR) students and aims to develop a research cluster that will work to make education accessible to all across the higher education sector. According to a report by the National Union of Students entitled ‘Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Student attainment at UK Universities’, these students do less well at university compared with their white counterparts, staff members are still highly underrepresented across all levels and there is a lack of belonging felt by non-white (or minority ethnic) students which results in poor motivation to wish to progress from undergraduate to postgraduate study.

The report also states that the lack of representation of people from minority ethnic backgrounds within universities impacts on PGR recruitment as there are a lack of role models to indicate the potential benefits of a PhD or the possible career and employment prospects offered by a research degree.

The project, which will last at least three years, will examine how best to provide training and support for academic staff so they can better support minority ethnic Post Graduate Researchers.

We have recently recruited five PhD students to work on a range of issues which we believe will help to develop knowledge on ways to improve access and participation for non-white students. We are currently in the process of advertising a studentship opportunity which will see one more doctoral student join our team.

We are at the beginning of the project but will share our ideas and findings as we develop as a cluster.

Dr Emmanuel Johnson, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Global Learning at Coventry University

Dr Johnson is spreading the word about the Race Xchange by interacting with students at both campuses of Coventry and Warwick universities, participating in student activities, having conversations with students and responding to questions that arise.

This interpersonal approach helps me learn of feelings and perceptions students have of their university experience. In addition, we are utilising social and digital media platforms to promote our doctoral studentships.

We have a diverse team of researchers from different disciplinary and philosophical traditions on the team and we hope to utilise this diversity to explore questions around belonging in the university space; looking at why some students don’t feel at home in the university and learning of how best these students can be supported.

Dr Emmanuel Johnson

Find out more about the Race Xchange.