Ethnic Minority Representation within the Post Graduate Research Community - Call for Advisory Board Members

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Last year, the UK Council for Graduate Education (UKCGE) revealed that despite a rise in the proportion of BAME postgraduate researchers between 2016/17 and 2018/19, the growth rate of 0.13% was so small that it would take half a century for BAME participation in postgraduate research to match the equivalent proportion at undergraduate level.

A group of nine Universities (Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Leicester, Loughborough, Keele, Nottingham, Open University and Warwick) have now come together to form a consortium in response to an Office for students/Research England funding call for projects.

It aims to increase the access of BAME groups to Postgraduate (Doctoral/PhD) Research studentship, improve and enhance the student experience of BAME Postgraduate Research students and diversify and improve the routes of BAME Postgraduate Researchers into Higher Education teaching and research careers. The application deadline is now the end of May 2021.

Midlands Innovation are key players in helping to increase the number of postgraduate students from BAME backgrounds.

The title of the proposed project is: INSPIRE - Inspiring Ethnically Diverse PGR Communities through collaborative innovation. INSPIRE has short, medium and longer term aims. It views Postgraduate research or doctoral level research as being the gateway into academic teaching and research careers. As such, in the short term we are dedicated to increasing the number of BAME candidates accessing funded postgraduate research studentships.

This will be achieved through the introduction of:

  1. Innovative awareness campaigns targeting a wide range of audiences (including BAME Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught/Masters level students).
  2. Funding and application mentor schemes for BAME candidates across all nine Universities.
  3. Working with the 100+ Postgraduate Research Funding entities the consortium is affiliated with to increase the number of studentships to under-represented groups.

Short, medium and long term aims

In the short to medium term, INSPIRE will introduce programmes of work that will enhance BAME Postgraduate Research Student's experience. This will include the introduction of innovative recruitment processes, whole person (culturally aware and emotionally intelligent supervision and mentorship) training for those academics involved in selecting, supervising, assessing and examining Postgraduate researchers.

The long term aim is focused on increased numbers of BAME postgraduate researchers entering PhD-level programmes as a result of INSPIRE.

This long term outlook also prioritises the nurturing and mentorship of BAME postgraduate students. In doing so, they are best placed to become the next generation of lecturers and researchers, and in time, Professors and leaders in Higher Education.

As such our long term ambition is to diversify Higher Education and to see it reap the benefits of becoming a much more diverse and inclusive sector.

Recruitment for advisory board

We are currently recruiting members to our Advisory Board.

The Advisory Board will consist of four Academics from the Consortium and four BAME Postgraduate Research Students, while also aiming to recruit four Advisory Board members from other organisations, including outside of the University Sector.

The ideal candidate would be an individual passionate about Higher Education. It would be desirable (but not essential) that this individual has had some experience of Postgraduate level study (ideally Postgraduate Research) themselves - as such they could bring their lived experience into this Advisory Board role.

That being said, an individual with a strong commitment to racial equality, who has experience of (or an appetite for) working with a wide group of individuals) to make change happen in society or in organisations, would be welcome.

Commitments

The Advisory Board would meet once a year for four years with two hours reading in preparation for the meeting. Each meeting would be 2-3 hours in length and there may be a few hours of follow-up reading after conclusion of the meeting. INSPIRE would be happy to reimburse Advisory Board Members for their time and travel.

If you believe you meet the criteria or require further information, then reach out and contact: H.Turner@midlandsinnovation.org.uk

Lastly, if you want to enquire as to how Midlands Innovation seeks to help with providing post-graduate research opportunities to BAME students, visit: midlandsinnovation.org or send them a message on Twitter at @InnovationMids


Fehmidah Munir

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A call to action...

For nearly 25 years OBV have fought to ensure Black and minority ethnic participation and representation in civic society. Efforts in continuing to do so though, relies on your help. That way we can continue this fight for greater race equality. What would give us a tremendous boost is if today, you made that small donation yourselves, but even more importantly if you encouraged others to do likewise.

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