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The Awarding Gap

The Awarding Gap
Psychology was the fourth most popular degree choice, with 104,050 undergraduates enrolling (HESA; Higher Education Statistics Agency). Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) in 2019 reported that 25% of Psychology undergraduates came from BAME backgrounds. Like other fields of study, psychology reports a degree awarding gap for Black, Asian, and ethnic minority students, and the size of this gap varies across Higher Education Institutes (HEI) (Arday et al., 2021). Psychology is diverse, so why do we not see this representation in the workforce?
Educational achievement at age 16 is crucial - a gatekeeper to higher education and employment opportunities later in life.
•Ethnic variation in outcomes at later ages remains.
•Harder access to high-tariff universities (Boliver, 2016)
•entry to work (Heath & Di Stasio, 2019)
•Getting the highest occupational groups (UK Government, 2020).
Black students are under-represented at Russell Group universities (Alexander et al, 2015). Russell Group universities have lower levels of student admissions from people from ethnic minority backgrounds, as well as students from state schools and low-income backgrounds, indicating stratification within the higher education system in Britain (Bhopal, 2018). Awarding gap and experience gap and this is different according to ethnicity (Advance HE).
Questions to ask your Head of Department/School?
1. What is the awarding gap between students of colour and white students in psychology? What does the data say? Are there other gaps?
2. Have we spoken to minoritised students about their experiences of studying psychology?
3. Have we spoken to BAME students about their experiences?
What could you do?
We can request awarding gap data from HESA at the subject level. How could thinking about the awarding gap at a national level help you? Could we tackle the awarding gap better by working cross-institutionally?