Investigators: Alexander Hensby and Barbara Adewumi
This research project is a three-year study of a sample of 27 Academic Excellence Scholarship (AES) recipients at the University of Kent, running from the 2019-20 to 2021-22 academic years.
The principal aim of the study is to compare the experiences of ‘high potential’ white and Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students across their higher education (HE) experience. Particular attention will be paid to comparing the preparedness of A-Level and BTEC entrants, and the suitability and effectiveness of the institutional support provided to them.
Research for this project is guided by two core, overarching questions:
1. What happens to high-potential BAME students once at university, and why do they tend to perform less well than their white counterparts?
2. Why is there an AES retention gap between A-Level and BTECs entrants? And to what extent does this gap reflect a deficit in BTEC entrants’ preparedness for higher education, or a learning provision that privileges A-Level entrants?
Research draws on a combination of interviews and questionnaires, with research participants invited twice yearly to reflect on their experiences of university study, including the challenges and opportunities they have experienced, and discuss their goals and aspirations going forward. As of 2020, the project has also sought to capture the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, including students’ experiences of study life under lockdown conditions.
The project is internally-funded by the University of Kent, with findings disseminated throughout its lifespan. So far, our research has informed the University’s EDI strategy for student support during the Coronavirus pandemic, and our initial findings report can be accessed via the link below. We will also begin to share and discuss findings more widely via conferences and publications going into 2021.