What is the attainment gap?
The attainment gap is measured as the difference in proportion of White versus BAME students who are awarded an upper 2nd class or 1st class degree, and stands at an absolute national gap of 13% as reported by the Office for Students (Stevenson et al, 2019).
In medicine, the attainment gap is harder to identify and measure since degrees are unclassified, awarded as pass or fail with varying rules for distinction/honours awards in different medical schools. Consequently, the gap between White and BAME students in attaining distinctions and honours is less straightforward to ascertain.
During our analysis, we defined the attainment gap in medicine as the difference in proportion of White versus BAME students that are awarded merit, distinctions and honours, and identified a gap of 12.5%.
Why is this significant?
Warwick Medical School (WMS), the largest graduate-entry medical school in the UK, admits students who have undertaken an undergraduate or post-graduate degree. Students have achieved an upper second class or first class in their first degree. This affords a unique position to explore differential attainment as students have already excelled in previous HE studies. Our findings are therefore significant as it appears that many high-achieving UK BAME students subsequently underperform at the medical school.
What causes the attainment gap?
Research by Woolf et al, (2008, 2013) suggests that there are multiple factors that accumulate to create inherent disadvantages for ethnic minority students. These include ethnic stereotyping, the impact of stereotyping and student-teacher relationships in a learning environment amongst others. Similar findings were also reported by Morrison et al, (2019) wherein BAME students experienced relationship issues with other students as well as academic / clinical staff, lack of trust in the institution as well as experiences of racism and lack of intercultural awareness from peers, staff and patients, which impacted their experience and learning.
The BAME attainment gap is now widely acknowledged to result from institutional practices rather than student deficits as it remains after controlling for students’ pre-university attainment, socio-economic status, parental job, language, motivation for being a doctor, study habits, whether living at home or not, and personality types (Broecke 2007, Wolf et al 2013).
Why did we form the WMS Attainment Gap Group?
In September 2018, we formed the Attainment Gap Working Group to identify areas where we need to take action as a School, and to agree our approach. This is led by Professor Olanrewaju Sorinola, and has a rotating Student Lead, currently Jess Quimpo, BME Network President.
To find out more about what we've doing to create lasting change, click here.
Purpose and Remit
The Attainment Gap Working Group (AGWG) is a sub-group of the LTQC committee.
The AGWG is responsible for collecting the data on attainment gap in WMS medical students, analysing possible causes of the attainment gap, and identifying measures that need to be implemented with the aim of closing the attainment gap.
AGWG is responsible for reporting and advising the MB ChB Learning and Teaching Quality Committee (LTQC) and through to the WMS Education Committee who will then take responsibility for wider implementation of recommended measures.
Attainment Gap Group Chair
Professor Olanrewaju Sorinola PhD | FRCOG | FRANZCOG | WIHEA Fellow
Medical Teaching Centre Rm 022 / Tel: 02476 528208
Attainment Gap Group Secretary
Medical teaching Centre Rm 014 / Tel: 02476 572710