BAME students at Bristol are a third less likely to get a first. Meet the campaigners fighting to change that
The BME for Success Program supports the experience and success of BAME students
BAME students at Bristol are a third less likely to get a first than white students, but a group from the university are fighting to close the attainment gap.
Student Inclusion Officer Robiu Salisu and Masters student Yannick Yalipende are leading the 'Be More Empowered for Success Program', which supports Black Asian Minority Ethnic students.
The scheme enables students to work with the university to be more inclusive, while offering wellbeing initiatives and events.
31 per cent of white students in 2015/2016 graduated with a first, compared to 20 per cent of BME students, UoB figures show.
BAME students also expressed feelings of a lack of community and inclusion within the university in a report by UoB, which Robiu describes as "the greatest challenge for BAME students arriving at the university".
The lack of belonging manifests across the university, Robiu says. "This can be either in the space of the classroom where the curriculum is not reflective of their identity to the halls that they might be staying in which is not diverse or accommodating of their ethnic or cultural background.”
Yannick is an Applied Neuropsychology Masters student who started the Black Women Talk and Black Men Talk initiatives. These peer-assisted well-being groups come under the ‘belonging’ section of the program and create a safe space for black students to discuss their experiences.
On the BME Success Program, Yannick told The Tab: “It's amazing to see the how well received it has been. From the recruitment of student advocates to the backing from the university and last but not least, the response from the local community. Everyone has come together on this and it's awesome to see.”
Recent projects and events run by the program include the BME Powerlist Project, Getting into the Creative Industry: VICE, BBC, Channel 4, and Black Women Talk.
Looking forward to next year, Yannick said: “My team and I have a lot of planning to do over the summer as we have some great ideas involving local mental health organisations like Nilaari, NAOS, ReThink, just to name a few.
“I will endeavour to stay true to our motto 'strength and resilience through community', that means keeping the community and it's layers at the forefront this initiative”.
Salisu's hope is that "the program [will] grow to the extent that BAME student experience and attainment is on par with their white counterpart”.
At the recent launch event, the Deputy Vice Chancellor Judith Squires reasserted the university’s commitment towards BAME students and their experience. The university has applied to become a Race Chartered Institution, which means that it will be assessed on all of its work.