Lack of diverse curriculum 'hampers BAME students', university study finds

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University of LeicesterImage source, University of Leicester
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The university has faced debate over its plans to "decolonise" its curriculum

Black students often have to "work harder" than their peers to connect with assessments and curriculum content, a report suggests.

The University of Leicester study found some black students were concerned they were marked by their "capacity to mask their blackness" in presentations.

It suggested a "lack of a sufficiently diverse or decolonised curriculum" hampered some students' progress.

It called for clearer questions, feedback and marking criteria.

Widening curriculums and course content will help black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students relate learning to their own experiences, a leading academic at the university said.

The report was based around an analysis of the experiences of BAME students studying biology, physics, law and sociology.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The university said it wanted to create a more "open, equality-driven, representative, relevant university and inspiring curriculum"

The study also found South Asian students of Islamic faith often felt that they were subject to ethnic and religious-based anti-education stereotypes and biases, which negatively affected their grades.

Dr Paul Campbell, lecturer in sociology at the University of Leicester and an author of the report, said the current curriculum meant it was difficult for black students to connect content and assessments directly to their own lived realities.

The report calls for clearer language in essay questions, clearer feedback in marked work, clearer assessment frameworks and criteria to be created and better pre-assessment and post-assessment support.

Dr Campbell said: "This report presents a significant progress towards our commitment and work towards creating a more open, equality-driven, representative, relevant university and inspiring curriculum.

"It marks the beginning of a revolutionary process to create a higher education system that is fully fit and inclusive for the 21st century."

The University of Leicester's efforts to "decolonise" the curriculum in subjects like English, history and law stirred up debate when it became linked with plans to review 145 posts.

The study is part of a series of projects aimed to address the awarding gap for ethnic minority students.

More than half (52%) of students are from a BAME background at the University of Leicester, and the university currently has a 9% attainment gap between the likelihood of white students and those from BAME backgrounds getting a first or 2.1 degree, compared with the national 13% gap.

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