University Centre Weston (UCW) recently hosted a conference to consider ways of increasing the participation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students in higher education (HE).
UCW is part of the Western Widening Participation (WP) Research Cluster – an organisation of groups from across the region which meets to discuss and promote the WP agenda.
The Cluster’s summer conference was held in UCW’s Winter Gardens building on Tuesday 11th June.
Participants from universities, outreach groups and student bodies across the country visited Weston to discuss the topic of ‘universities and diversity: from understanding to action’.
The event involved keynote addresses by Jason Arday from the University of Warwick, Charlotte Chadderton from Bath Spa University and Gurnam Singh from Coventry University, as well as workshops about mentoring programmes, admissions processes, inclusion and outreach work.
UCW is also a member of the Western Inspiration Network, which works with young people in parts of the country where there is a low rate of progression to HE.
One of these areas is in Weston, and UCW has a dedicated adviser to promote the benefits of degree-level study to students from the area and support social mobility initiatives across the town.
Sadie Skellon, UCW’s assistant director, said: “The only barrier to participation in higher education should be a student’s ability to succeed on their course.
“We are very proud that every year we welcome lots of people to UCW who are the first people in their family to go to university, and our student body is also made up of a higher than average percentage of mature students.
“The number of BAME students at UCW is broadly in line with North Somerset as a whole, but I am really pleased that so many of our staff engaged with this conference and are committed to increasing diversity at UCW and also in higher education as a whole.
“I am also delighted that the attainment gap for BAME students at UCW is far, far lower than the 23% we see across the country.”
Please click here to read the UCW Access and Participation Plan.