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University of the Arts London

Academic support and the BAME attainment gap: Using data to challenge assumptions


Within higher education, multiple factors are said to be causing a gap between Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and White students. Whilst there is the will to close it, some underlying assumptions amongst university staff maintain the idea of a BAME student skills deficit that tends to point towards academic support as a form of salvation. This article explains how a data driven approach effectively challenged assumptions about BAME student engagement with academic support by discussing a quantitative study of students at London College of Fashion (UAL), and highlights issues connected with using institutional data to research ethnic inequalities.


Academic Support, BAME, Attainment, Institutional Data, Monitoring Engagement, Ethnic Categorisation


Author Biography

Lucy Panesar

Lucy Panesar joined the UAL Teaching and Learning Exchange in January 2017 as an Educational Developer (Diversity and Inclusion), after working for almost two years as an Academic Support Lecturer at the London College of Fashion. Before that she taught at the University of Creative Arts, where she first began to research cultural diversity and ethnic inequality in response to data highlighting the BAME attainment gap. Lucy’s interest in data relates to her work as a live artist, in which she has interrogated methods used to quantify complex social issues in the guise of her corporate alter-ego Felicity Mukherjee.


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