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 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).
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
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:
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:
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.
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
The Library's Collection Development Policy updated in 2020 supports the University Strategy and Mission.
One of its aims is:
To achieve this aim: