Closing Our Gap is our campaign to share how our University is working to reduce the attainment gap between white students and Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic students through our inclusive curriculum, academic research and the engagement opportunities that are available to students, staff and our wider academic community.

How are we closing our gap?

At Canterbury Christ Church University we value diversity and believe that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to succeed. Equality, diversity and inclusion are central to our ethos and underpin everything that we do.

Universities UK identified that nationally there is an attainment gap between students of different ethnicities at the vast majority of universities, with inequalities in higher education mirroring those in wider UK society.

Our work with the Office for Students (OfS) has led us to understand that although there were no significant gaps for students of other ethnicities, the attainment gap for our black students is of serious concern and we will be taking a whole University approach, working in partnership with our Students’ Union, to reduce it.

Together, with the Students’ Union, we are committed to close the degree attainment gap for our black students and other student profiles with diversity characteristics.

In our Access and Participation Plan for 2020/2021 to 2024/2025 we outline the following priorities for our black students around access, continuation and progression:

  • To reduce the non-continuation gap between black and white students from 3% to 0%
  • To reduce the attainment gap between black and white students from 42% to 24%
  • To reduce the graduate employment gap between black and white students from 6% to 0%

Success will be delivered through collaboration, challenge, personal and professional development and policy and procedural changes.

Our strategy will be informed by the study of sector best practice, case studies and reports published by HESA, Advance HE, Universities UK and the Office for Students.

Our University’s approach is underpinned by strong leadership, with the Senior Management Team and Governing Body leading by example and taking responsibility for change, with strong Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic representation.

Closing Our Gap Steering Group

The Closing our Gap Steering Group provides strategic direction in developing a holistic approach to resolving the attainment gap. The Group provides oversight of activity to reduce this gap, ensuring an integrated and University-wide approach is developed.

The work and activities associated with Closing Our Gap are complex and varied, therefore in order to organise our thinking and planning, a strategic framework has been developed. The framework provides a clear overview of the work with associated timescales and will be used to track and monitor over time. Through consultations with staff and students across the institution, we have identified work strands that have been grouped under three categories: Culture, Curriculum and Community.

Contact: Mary Makinde, Strategic Lead: Closing our Gap, mary.makinde@canterbury.ac.uk

At Christ Church we believe in educating the whole person and fundamentally we believe that education should provide an opportunity for all students and staff to be reflected, see themselves in the world and provide opportunities for the co-creation of knowledge.

What is decolonising the curriculum?

Decolonising the curriculum goes beyond the reading list and the classroom, it requires us to identify colonial structures and systems that are embedded within our education system and work towards dismantling these. This requires a paradigm shift in our understanding of knowledge and how knowledge is acquired, disseminated and valued.

Through decolonising we aim to develop practices and policies that amply all voices and enrich the curricular and the learning experiences of all students.

Why is there a need to decolonise?

Through the omission of marginalised voices, the current curricular does not truly reflect the diversity of our students, staff and the wider society. Through the addition of previously omitted voices and perspectives, we can begin to build a curricular that is diverse, inclusive and reflective of our staff, students and society, develop a community that fosters good relations and a sense of belonging in which everyone is heard and valued.

The impact of not decolonising can have far-reaching impact beyond Higher Education. For instance, the impact of not decolonising the health care curriculum to include the presentation of illness and diseases on Black and Brown skin can result in poor health care outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.

Is decolonising different from diversifying?

Yes. Diversifying provides limited opportunities to challenge the hierarchies and inequalities embedded within the curricular and our society. Decolonising the curriculum goes deeper. Decolonising provides us with an opportunity to critically reflect, dismantle our assumptions, unlearn, relearn and rebuild together.

Our Decolonising the Curriculum Health Check provides us with an opportunity to reflect, re-build and co-create knowledge in which we are all reflected.

There are a range of initiatives taking place across the University that demonstrate how we are listening to, partnering with and supporting our black students to succeed.

Bridging the gap to leadership

Alongside the University of Brighton, we have embarked on an exciting collaborative leadership placement opportunity highlighting the urgent need to tackle issues around inequalities experienced by Black, Asian, mixed heritage and minority ethnic students whilst on placement in healthcare settings.

Funded by Health Education England, the project provides placement opportunities for up to 12 students and focuses on the experiences of black, Asian, mixed heritage and minority ethnic students in their practice placements. Students from both universities will work collaboratively to shape the project, working with representatives from each institution, placement provider organisations and the supporting professional bodies.

For further information and student stories click here.

IGNITE: Bridging the black attainment gap in the Business School

The aim of the IGNITE programme is to identify and unlock black students’ potentials through mentoring.

It starts with a conversation with individual black students about their ambitions and challenges, to help to question any assumptions, and instil a sense of belief around what can be achieved. A learning plan is developed for each student to meet their specific needs, to help them to reach their goals, and this is supported by structured peer-to-peer group study.

The programme has resulted in significant grade improvements including, for the first time in many years, a young black (home) student graduating with a 1st Class Honours in the Business School.

Contact: Dr Seyi Adesina, oluseyi.adesina@canterbury.ac.uk.

The Student Voice: Learning from the student experience, School of Law, Criminal Justice and Policing

The School asked their Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic students about their learning experiences to help them look beyond the data and understand what changes they could introduce to support their Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic students.

Based on the feedback the School’s Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Ethnic Minority Working Group are now looking at:

  • Curriculum development
  • BAME student ambassadors
  • Industrial BAME student mentors

Building a sense of belonging by:

  • Learning names
  • Multi-cultural case studies
  • Diverse reading lists
  • Diverse assessments
  • Valuing student contributions
  • Carefully timetabled activities e.g. assessments during Ramadan

Contact: Mary Makinde, mary.makinde@canterbury.ac.uk.

The 3C Scheme, Law Programme

The law programme is taking a team approach to address the attainment gap in Law. The CLAG [Closing the Law Attainment Gap] team, developed a strategy that meaningfully intersects with multiple aspects of student life at CCCU under three main heads, Curriculum, Community and Culture: The ‘3C scheme’. Some of the measures implemented and suggested under each aspect of the 3C scheme include;

Curriculum

  • Decolonising the curriculum and embedding (more) race into the law curriculum
  • Trialling anonymous marking in a couple of L4 modules this year.
  • Providing more assistance for students around following citation guidelines closely and avoiding plagiarism
  • A Super PAT [personal academic tutor] the students can approach regarding matters relating to race, inclusivity etc.

Community

  • Making law students more aware of the Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic students attainment gap
  • Appointing Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic students reps for each year and including Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic students committee member positions in the CCCU Student Law Society
  • Organise social events that reflect and celebrate multiculturalism and create spaces of belonging for BAME students

Culture

  • Improving (staff/student) awareness of racial harassment.
  • Law team to work towards a cultural shift where Inclusivity, Diversity and Equality are taken into account from an intersectional perspective when making decisions.
  • Obtaining training for the law team around micro-aggression and unconscious bias

Contact: Gowri Nanayakkara, gowri.nanayakkara@canterbury.ac.uk

You may want to reflect and to update your knowledge and understanding on race and race related issues, so we have put together a list of resources that you may find useful. We are a team that believes in equality and celebrates diversity.

Books to read

  • Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging by Afua Hirsch (2018)
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (2017)
  • How To Be an Anti-racist by Ibram X. Kendi (2019)
  • Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad (2020)
  • Citizen by Claudia Rankine (2014)
  • White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo (2018)
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015)
  • When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Cullors (2018)
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (2017)
  • The Good Immigrant: 21 Writers Explore What It Means To Be Black, Asian, And Minority Ethnic In Britain Today edited by Nikesh Shukla (2016)
  • Tackling the roots of racism by Reena Bhavnani, Hedi Safia Mirza and Veena Meetoo (2005)
  • Publishers Palgrave have made a number of books written about issues related to racism and books written by ethnic minorityauthors free in support of Black Lives Matter. View these resources.

How to access

Many of the above books are available from the CCCU Bookshop and Library.

Journals and articles to read

Podcasts

Video Clips

Social Media & Websites

Explaining race and racism to children