The project is a collaboration with the University of Manchester Students’ Union and is working in partnership with the University of Birmingham and Manchester Metropolitan University, and their Students’ Union and Guild.
Higher education has long been thought of as a meritocratic space, a place that affords everybody who enters it the equal opportunity to achieve their potential. However, increasingly we are being presented with evidence that suggests this is not necessarily the case.
Reports highlight differences in outcomes and experiences for students from low socio-economic groups, disabled students, and those from BAME backgrounds, both home and international (HEFCE, 2015). The reasons behind the data are complex and it is recognised there is no one magical solution. It is felt that an effective response requires a number of multi-dimensional approaches.
By creating safe spaces, building supportive networks and empowering students to safely challenge racism and other forms of discrimination, the Diversity and Inclusion Student Ambassador Project aims to increase academic attainment, improve students’ sense of belonging, engagement, wellbeing, interpersonal skills and the ability to confidently tackle discriminatory behaviour.
A flexible framework will enable partners to adapt and imbed approaches in their internal structures and address specific priorities appropriate to their institutional contexts and the inputs and outputs of these approaches will be monitored and evaluated.
Diversity and Inclusion Student Ambassador Programmes across the three institutions will engage with BAME students (both home and international) and those from low socio-economic groups to:
- create safe spaces to dialogue on inclusive learning and teaching environments, academic support and wellbeing
- increase students' sense of belonging and ability to build meaningful relationships with each other and between students and staff (academic, PSS and others) through the development of internal and external networks
- empower students to tackle the negative effects of stereotyping and micro-aggressions and to safely challenge racism, sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination on campus.
Project model and outcomes
This project uses a co-production model that is capacity focused and moves away from consultation towards active engagement with students as partners. It seeks to build on individuals’ knowledge, experience, skills and networks, using these resources to deliver effective and sustainable change.
Student ambassadors will receive training and support to undertake activities that promote inclusive learning environments. They will also benefit from the development of a ‘Diversity and Inclusion Student Ambassador Online Platform’ and an ‘Active Bystander Intervention’.
The following outcomes will be measured:
- Improved academic attainment, compared with a comparable student group (quasi-experimental model)
- Increased levels of student sense of belonging
- An increase in psychological capital
- Improved mental wellbeing
- Increased levels of student engagement with their course
- An increase in the likelihood that participants will be motivated to tackle negative stereo-types and micro-aggressions.
|Total project funding||£768,390|
|Project contact name||Cath Prescott|
|Project contact email||Cath.Prescott@manchester.ac.uk|
|Project contact telephone||0161 3065856|