December 02, 2021 | University Partners

University of Wolverhampton: Universities Join Forces to Eliminate Barriers for Postgraduate Researchers

The University of Wolverhampton and Birmingham City University have been successful in a bid to improve access for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups (BAME) in postgraduate research study in the West Midlands.

Following a bid approved by Research England and the Office for Students (OfS), University of Wolverhampton and Birmingham City University (BCU) will work in collaboration to tackle persistent inequalities that create barriers for postgraduate research students from BAME groups across the region.

The project ‘That’s me!: Eliminating barriers to postgraduate research study in the West Midlands’ will focus on three large key professional and practice-based subjects – Health, Education and Business and Law.

According to HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) data, these subjects accounted for 20 per cent of all postgraduate research students in 2019/20 with less than 25 per cent from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

The project aims to eliminate barriers and improve access to postgraduate research study by tackling university cultures and processes, creating an enabling regional employment environment, and facilitating outstanding supervisory and peer support, geared towards championing successful research and researcher careers.

Professor Silke Machold, Dean of Research at University of Wolverhampton said: “It’s fantastic news that we have been successful together with our partners at Birmingham City University (BCU) and regional employers on the That’s Me! project bid.

“By working closely with regional stakeholders, we will look at identifying the multiple accessible pathways for students that have historically been excluded and make them accessible. We will also be co-creating resources with and for students from Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnic groups to ensure we are doing all we can to eliminate barriers and improve access to research study across the West Midlands.”

Dr Ada Adeghe, Associate Dean of Inclusivity at University of Wolverhampton said: “I’m delighted to see the move towards breaking down the barriers for BAME students, and so pleased we will be leading on this project along with BCU to improve access across the region.

“This strongly demonstrates the University’s commitment to the values and objectives of our Race Equality Charter in proactively supporting BAME groups in progressing in their careers.”

Priscilla Eke, Researcher at the University of Wolverhampton said: “This is great news and a powerful step in the right direction.

“I am delighted to see the partnership of these amazing institutions and the impact the That's Me! project will make in bridging the gap between research and the BAME community and raising voices that would champion research relevant to their communities.”

Tanya Mpofu, PhD Researcher at University of Wolverhampton said: “It’s certainly delightful and exciting news that we have been successful in the That’s Me! project bid.

“It gives so much joy and hope for the future as a BAME student. This is a defining moment and hopefully the future of BAME students to come will be easier and better than what it has been for the past decades."

Rob Smith, Professor of Education at Birmingham City University said: “Equality, diversity and inclusion are core concerns for us and this project will help strengthen our role in providing a vital pipeline of education, health, business and law professionals who can properly serve the interests of Birmingham’s richly diverse population in the challenging decades ahead.  We’re very pleased to be joining forces with the University of Wolverhampton on this important work.

“Just over half of our undergraduate student population come from (so-called) BAME backgrounds and the project will also help us to improve representation at research level, and through that, to increase knowledge production that properly takes account of BAME experience. Now we’ve been given the formal go ahead, with the help of local employers, we’re going to work hard to tackle the barriers that prevent more BAME students from undertaking and being successful in postgraduate research study.”

Partners on this project also include Arthur Terry Learning Partnership, Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, City of Wolverhampton Council, University of Wolverhampton Multi Academy Trust, NIHR Clinical Research Network, Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, C Brandauer and Co Ltd, The Active Wellbeing Society, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, West Midlands Combined Authority, City of Wolverhampton College, Black Country Chamber of Commerce, Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

This project is part of the thirteen new projects announced by OfS (Office for Students) announced on November 24.