‘Look at how white the academy is’: why BAME students aren’t doing PhDs | Education | The Guardian

When Usman Kayani chose to do a PhD in theoretical physics at King’s College London, he felt sure an academic career lay ahead of him. Now two months after completing his doctorate, having suffered from anxiety and depression, he is considering other options.

At first Kayani was the only student who was either black, Asian or from an ethnic minority (BAME) in his research group. Although the group later became a bit more diverse he remembers how that feeling of being different, coupled with a lack of BAME academics and professors he could look up to as role models, contributed to his feelings of anxiety.

“It didn’t help my imposter syndrome. I do feel the lack of representation can put people off a career in academia. It’s a vicious cycle,” he says. “My dream was always to stay in academia. Now I don’t know what I want to do and I feel a bit lost.”

As a BAME student, Kayani was defying the odds by doing doctoral research at all. According to an analysis by the Higher Education Funding Council for England in 2016, BAME students are more likely than white students to decide to take a master’s course but less likely to do a PhD. The research found that 2.4% of white students had started a PhD within five years of graduation, compared to 1.3% of their BAME peers.

Last month the UK Council for Graduate Education launched an in depth review looking to establish why more BAME graduates aren’t progressing onto PhDs. The review, which will report next year, will conduct a detailed analysis of student data to understand trends for researching, qualification rates and funding for different ethnicities, as well as to highlight existing schemes which are encouraging participation rates for BAME students.

The fact that more young black students aren’t choosing to do doctorates doesn’t surprise Lynette Goddard, a black academic at Royal Holloway, University of London. She says that in 21 years as an academic she has only supervised three black PhD students. “That tells you something,” she says. When she announced her promotion on her Facebook page, someone commented: “I was never taught by a black lecturer at university so it didn’t occur to me I could do that.”


Source: ‘Look at how white the academy is’: why BAME students aren’t doing PhDs | Education | The Guardian

New immigration rules will stop overseas graduates starting the businesses we need | Robert Phillips | Education | The Guardian

With Brexit and a global recession looming, the UK needs the talents of enterprising overseas students more than ever. But the outlook is gloomy: there’s been a sharp decline in entrepreneurship among immigrants since the EU referendum. While that’s perhaps unsurprising given the anti-immigration rhetoric that Brexit has spawned, it’s bad news for our economy. Recent data shows that immigrants are more likely to start a business than people born in the UK (13% compared to 8%), and while 14% of UK residents are foreign-born, 49% of fast growing businesses had at least one foreign-born founder.

Despite this, the government has recently changed the rules on which international students are able to stay in the UK after graduation to start a business. While there are some positives, there is a danger that many of the successful entrepreneurs who were endorsed under the previous scheme – such as photographer booking website Perfocal, glasses retailer Specscart and sports travel agency Homefans – would now be excluded.


Source: New immigration rules will stop overseas graduates starting the businesses we need | Robert Phillips | Education | The Guardian

Pension changes will leave university staff £240k worse off – study | Education | The Guardian

University staff will be more than £200,000 worse off under new pension arrangements as a result of rising contributions and reduced benefits, according to analysis for the University and College Union.

On the eve of a new ballot over strike action at British universities, the UCU published research claiming that a typical member of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) would pay £40,000 more into their pension but receive almost £200,000 less in retirement as a result of changes introduced since 2011.

The strike ballot is due to open on 9 September at 69 universities with UCU members in the pension scheme and will run until the end of October. Last year more than 40,000 staff took part in sustained and unprecedented strike action over their pensions that brought campuses to a standstill.


Source: Pension changes will leave university staff £240k worse off – study | Education | The Guardian

Sheffield’s LGBT-only halls were called a ghetto – but a year on, they’re thriving | Katharine Swindells | Education | The Guardian

A year ago, the University of Sheffield made headlines when we became the first UK university to launch LGBT-only flats in our accommodation. Much of the coverage was based on untruths and exaggeration, conjuring images of huge rainbow-clad buildings where all gay students were forced to stay.

The reality was far less dramatic: 32 students in seven flats scattered among the three student villages, with no way of being identified aside from by their tenants. It was hardly the “ghettoising” we were accused of.

The debate hit the news during my first week as the students’ union welfare officer. The project was a result of a partnership between the university and the students’ union LGBT committee. As an LGBT activist myself, I initially had concerns. But my worries were quickly assuaged when I did what lots of news outlets didn’t: actually talk to the students concerned.

They never saw themselves as part of a big political controversy. In fact, they were baffled by all the attention. For the LGBT students, it was about not having to feel like they look feminine or masculine enough to fit in. Or being able to talk about Tinder dates and seminar crushes without fearing judgment or intrusive questions. It’s about one of the most fundamental human needs: to feel safe and comfortable in your own home.

One resident I spoke to, Fran, acts as a mentor in several flats. She said she has heard lots of LGBT students voice fears that their new flatmates might share the views of their school bullies or unsupportive parents. For those students, being around even one other queer person can make life easier. “As a queer person, in an environment that still isn’t great, especially for trans students, your very existence and the fact that you’re living out is resistance in its own way,” she said.

Veronica, a first-year biology student, told me that she had worried about living with someone homophobic. LGBT halls gave her the assurance that her sexuality would be accepted. She had friends express concerns, saying that LGBT students should mix with others to teach them acceptance. But living in the halls made her mingle more by giving her the confidence to go out, meet new people and try new things.


Source: Sheffield’s LGBT-only halls were called a ghetto – but a year on, they’re thriving | Katharine Swindells | Education | The Guardian

Foreign students who stay to work in UK pay £3.2bn in taxes – study | Education | The Guardian

International students who stay and work in the UK for a decade after graduation contribute £3.2bn in extra tax revenues, research has revealed.

The first major report into the boost overseas students give the economy found non-UK graduates do not take jobs from local residents, because they largely obtain work in highly qualified areas such as economics or science, or in sectors that suffer acute shortages, such as teaching and nursing.

The study by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) and the consultancy London Economics found that in the 10 years after graduation, the EU and overseas students who remain from a single year’s cohort will pay an estimated £3.2bn in income tax, VAT, national insurance and other revenues to the exchequer.


Source: Foreign students who stay to work in UK pay £3.2bn in taxes – study | Education | The Guardian

College students with disabilities are too often excluded : The Conversation

AnnCatherine Heigl, a sophomore at George Mason University, recently attempted to join all eight sororities at her school. All eight turned her down.

If you ask her sister, who Tweeted about how the experience left AnnCatherine “unwanted and devastated,” the reason the sororities denied AnnCatherine is because she has a disability: Down syndrome.

This kind of outright rejection isn’t the experience of all college students with disabilities. But AnnCatherine’s experience is hardly an isolated case. Since colleges and universities only have so much control over student-run groups, it’s important to consider how disability is viewed within the school community.

I’m a researcher who focuses on raising disability awareness in educational settings.

All students need to feel included in order to succeed in college. But when a student has a disability, inclusion can be more difficult to achieve. One study shows students with disabilities participate in fewer extracurricular activities, like clubs or on-campus events, than non-disabled peers. This is due to a lack of social inclusion, the study states. It also stems from the fact that many colleges and university programs “focus mostly on academic and physical accessibility.” The social participation of students with disabilities gets less attention. Since many extracurricular activities are student led and organized, it’s all the more important to understand how peers with disabilities are being excluded.

College students with disabilities are also more likely to drop out of school than their peers without disabilities. Research shows that only 34 percent of college students with disabilities complete a four year program. Conversely, 51 percent of their peers without disabilities finish school. This begs the question: How can colleges and universities become more inclusive?

Start early

First, teachers at the K-12 level need to develop skills to talk about disabilities. While educators might teach about topics like race, class, gender, or sexuality, disability is often left out of the discussion.

Ask yourself: How many books did you read in school that featured characters with disabilities? How much did you learn about the disability rights movement in your social studies classes? Or was it largely a hidden story?

Some educators have begun to recognize the importance of disability-based lessons. Still, I’d argue that those lessons need to be more deliberately incorporated in school.

By the time students enter college, they might hesitate to discuss disability because they are worried about saying the wrong thing. Awkwardness and avoidance can continue long after college.

Teachers can help by using literature to discuss disability in class. The mainstream successof R.J. Palacio’s Wonder – a book about a boy born with a craniofacial disability – shows how this is possible.


Source: College students with disabilities are too often excluded : The Conversation

I grew up here, but Britain is making it as hard as possible for me to become a citizen | Chrisann Jarrett | Opinion | The Guardian

am only 23, but I stand with the Windrush generation because I know what it’s like to suddenly feel unwelcome and unwanted in the country where you’ve lived most of your life, and which you thought was your home.

I was born in Jamaica but arrived in the UK aged eight to join my mum. I loved school, and in my final year was made head girl at Clapton Girls’ academy. I was so excited when I won a place at LSE to study law in 2013.

It was only then that I realised that my immigration status meant I would not be able to take up my place. I contacted the charity Just for Kids Law with a few questions about the Ucas process, but it became clear that my situation was far more complicated than I first imagined.

I spent the next few weeks in complete shock. I discovered that, rather than having “unsettled” status in the country I call my home, I had no “lawful” status at all. I made numerous phone calls to the Home Office, and was initially told that my family had a valid application and that our documents would be with us in a few weeks.

But this didn’t turn out to be the case. I was in the Just for Kids Law offices, desperate to take up my place at university, when I made the final call. I remember listening to the woman on the other end of the phone tell me that, despite what I had previously been informed, I had no status nor an active application at all. I went numb.


Source: I grew up here, but Britain is making it as hard as possible for me to become a citizen | Chrisann Jarrett | Opinion | The Guardian

Why a post-racial British society remains a myth – even in universities : The Conversation

Racism is truly alive and kicking in British society, not least in liberal, progressive universities. This was evident in early March when a black female student released a video of people shouting “we hate the blacks” outside her room in her halls of residence. Unfortunately, this incident is far from isolated.

In my new book, I examine how race and racism continue to disadvantage those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds both in universities and wider society. By virtue of their racial identity, such groups are positioned as outsiders in a society which values and privileges whiteness.

In Britain, policies that attempt to be inclusive actually portray an image of a post-racial society, in which racial inequalities and racism no longer exist. In reality vast inequalities between white, black and minority ethnic communities continue to exist. They exist in the access to the labour market, in schools – and in higher education.


Source: Why a post-racial British society remains a myth – even in universities : The Conversation

The arguments for and against grammar schools both miss the point | David Willetts | Opinion | The Guardian

The education system is tilted against working-class teenagers. The narrow emphasis on academic selection needs to be completely reimagined if real social mobility is to become a reality

Source: The arguments for and against grammar schools both miss the point | David Willetts | Opinion | The Guardian