Introduction to the project
The Bridging the Gap to Leadership project started in February 2021 and it is a collaborative project between Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Brighton. Funded by Health Education England, the project has enabled us to gain a deeper insight into the experiences of Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic students undertaking practice placements in Health and Social Care settings.
In 2019, the National Union for Students and Universities UK published a report highlighting the disparities in the degree outcomes between Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic students and their White counterparts. This has been of great concern for both Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Brighton and the wider higher education sector. Work by Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Brighton has highlighted that Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic students account for a significant proportion of the students who undertake practice placements as part of their degree. At Canterbury Christ Church University, Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic students account for 25% of the overall student population, with Black students accounting for 14% of this population. Approximately 43% of the Black undergraduate students at CCCU are within the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Social Care and many of the courses within this Faculty require students to complete practice placements during their academic studies and this can account for up to 50% of their student time.
The Bridging the Gap to Leadership project is intrinsically linked to the ongoing work at CCCU as part of our Closing Our Gap strategic commitments to addressing the attainment gap and addressing racial inequalities in higher education. Led by Mary Makinde, the University’s Closing Our Gap Strategic Lead, the University is committed to:
- Actively working to tackle and address the attainment gap. Including analysing and understanding the data
- Working collaboratively with our Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic students and staff to improve their lived experiences at the University
- Working closely with our external partners to improve the experiences of our Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic students on placements
- Decolonising the curriculum to ensure inclusive and diverse practice
- Providing a safe space for staff and students to have open and honest discussions on race and race-related issues
- Strengthening policies to ensure robust mechanisms to report and capture issues related to discrimination, harassment and bullying
- Working closely with the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team to ensure the EDI agenda and values are embedded into the organisational structure of the University. Including developing culturally sensitive services and activities across the University
- Promoting allyship and collective solidarity. Including providing the resources and support for staff and students to educate themselves on how to become an ally and develop culturally competent services.
- Building an inclusive and diverse workforce
Whilst many students have positive practice placement experiences, a significant proportion of Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic students experience racism, microaggressions and unconscious bias within practice placements. These include (but are not limited to):
- Racist remarks and/or microaggressions from patients, clients and members of staff e.g. A patient refusing to be examined by the student
- Shortening the name of the student so that it is easier to say
- Unconsciously making assumptions about the student’s ability or their culture based on their name or the colour of their skin
- Discussions on race, religion and culture in which the student is expected to provide the answer
The impact of racism can have long-lasting impact on a student’s wellbeing, degree outcome and graduate employability. The Bridging the Gap to Leadership Project highlights the need to tackle issues around racial inequalities within practice placements. The Bridging the Gap to Leadership placement has five main aims which are:
- To raise awareness of, and tackle issues of discrimination experienced by Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic students during practice placements
- To enhance the experiences of Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic students on practice placements
- To provide leadership development opportunities for Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Minority Ethnic students
- To promote allyship and foster a sense of belonging within practice placements
- To provide a set of resources for Practice Educators, students and our placement partners to develop their understanding of race, ethnicity and diversity within the learning and working environment
Students from Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Brighton have led on the work of the project, and this has helped to ensure that the student voice is captured all the way through. With thanks to the students who have led the project so far: Emmanuel Alli, Ibrahim Fofanah, Issy Taylor-Gallardo, Hansaka Seneviratne, David Amarteifio, Tasmin Jesse, Harriet Atkinson, Dimple Hirani, Japeth Rubiato, Phumuzile Sithole, Aliza Ale, Ralph Sevilla, Emmanuel Ozowara and Kai Yan Chun Spirini.
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At Canterbury Christ Church University, we value diversity and believe that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to succeed. Equality, diversity and inclusion are central to our ethos and underpin everything that we do. See how we are working at CCCU to close our gap.
To get find out more information about the Bridging the Gap to Leadership project or to get involved, please contact Mary Makinde (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Helen Carr (email@example.com).