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Subject guides

Reading List Toolkit (Broaden My Bookshelf): Why diversify my reading lists?

Toolkit to help academics diversify reading lists

                                  

The attainment gap

Universities have been instructed by the Office for Students (OfS) to tackle the race attainment gap that currently exists in the Higher Education sector.  According to their figures, in 2018-19, there was a difference of 22.1 percentage points between the proportion of white and black students getting a 1st or 2:1 .  This figure was reduced by just one percent compared to the previous year.  The OfS has set a target for the gap to be eliminated by 2024/2025 (Office for Students, 2020).

The BAME attainment gap - there is a 13% 'gap’ between the likelihood of white students and students from BAME backgrounds getting a 1st or a 2:1 degree classification (Universities UK, 2019)

The Closing the Gap report produced by Universities UK and the National Union of Students stated that "While 78% of white students who graduated last year ended up qualifying with a first or a 2:1, 66% of Asian students achieved the same, and just 53% of black students" (Universities UK, 2019).

References

Office for Students (2020)  Official Statistic: key performance measurement 4.  Retrieved from https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/about/measures-of-our-success/participation-performance-measures/gap-in-degree-outcomes-1sts-or-21s-between-white-students-and-black-students/

Universities UK and National Union of Students (2019) Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Student Attainment and UK Universities #Closingthegap.  Retrieved from https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Pages/bame-student-attainment-uk-universities-closing-the-gap.aspx

 

Why should I diversify my reading lists?

The Closing the Gap report identified five steps that must be taken to reduce the gap.  One of these is developing racially diverse and inclusive environments to increase a sense of belonging amongst the BAME community to ensure student success and retainment.   Reading lists that are representative of the diverse student body, presenting a global perspective rather than a white male western centric viewpoint can help to create a more inclusive learning experience increasing a students' sense of belonging and encouraging engagement as students can see themselves reflected in their course.  They can also help increase student attainment. 

BAME ambassador Umayyah Zaman supports this point of view:

"If I do my assignments on texts that have been written by authors from the same religious or ethnic background as me, I would consistently understand the material more, get better feedback from my assessors and get better grades in my assignments"

A diverse reading list benefits all students not just the BAME community.  In the words of Adesewa Adebisi, former SU Education officer and BAME ambassador:

"A diverse reading list exposes both students and academics to different narratives from across the world and it challenges the norm that a eurocentric curriculum should be the default standard at university."  

For other viewpoints by Huddersfield staff and students on why diverse reading list is important to them, go to our what students and staff say about diverse reading lists page.

What is the situation like at the University of Huddersfield?

There is much work to be done.  An audit conducted by the BAME ambassadors in the academic year 2017-8 found that the average reading list comprised only 3-6% of authors from a BAME background.  Texts were euro-centric and the gender and ethnicity of authors was overwhelmingly white and predominantly male.   

Find out how diverse your reading lists are by measuring them against our reading list evaluation checklist 

Library policy

The Library's Collection Development Policy updated in 2020 supports the University Strategy and Mission.

One of its aims is:

To ensure our collections are inclusive an representative of our diverse student body to inspire students to fulfil their potential and achieve the highest academic and professional standards

To achieve this aim:

Library staff will work with academics and students to encourage and support the diversification of the Library collections to reflect the diversity of the University community.