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Advance HE commissioned to help tackle the ethnicity degree awarding gap

04 Oct 2023 | Advance HE Advance HE will work with Staffordshire University as joint independent evaluator, in partnership with TASO and six HE providers, to develop Theories of Change and evaluation plans for interventions to close the ethnicity degree awarding gap.

Advance HE will be working with Staffordshire University and six higher education providers on a project which aims to tackle the ethnicity degree awarding gap, in partnership with the Centre for Transforming Access and Students Outcomes in Higher Education (TASO).

The degree awarding gap refers to the significant difference in the proportions of students from marginalised ethnic backgrounds being awarded a first or upper-second class undergraduate degree when compared to white students. A TASO report published in June 2023 revealed that interventions to address the achievement gap tended to be inadequately detailed and it was unclear how they reduce the gap. The report also recommended that providers develop robust Theories of Change which clearly links activities to targets and objectives.

Following an open call in the summer, six higher education (HE) providers have been selected by TASO to work on a new phase of the project that will develop Theories of Change and evaluation plans designed to tackle the ethnicity degree awarding gap.

Birmingham City University, Loughborough University, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Law, University of Southampton and University of York will work closely with Advance HE and Staffordshire University, who have been jointly appointed as the independent evaluator on the project.

Amanda Aldercotte, Head of Knowledge and Research at Advance HE, said, “Working with TASO, Staffordshire University and these six individual HE providers aligns with Advance HE's unwavering commitment to addressing the ethnicity degree awarding gap and our dedication to fostering inclusive excellence in higher education.

"We are excited to capitalise on our experience tracking the ethnicity degree awarding gap and the factors contributing to these, and the evaluation expertise of our Insights team, to work directly with institutions in achieving their ambitions and ensuring that every student has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their background."

Theories of Change will be developed for a wide range of interventions being delivered by the partner HE providers, which involve:

  • adapting assessment practice
  • developing curricula
  • financial support
  • harnessing student voice
  • peer mentoring
  • placement and careers support
  • skills development
  • using learner analytics.

TASO aims to publish these Theories of Change and evaluation plans as prototypes for the sector to use in Spring 2024.

We provide enhanced insights and analysis services to the sector and institutions to help identify strengths and challenges and the impetus for change. Find out more about Advance HE Insights.


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