Research on the Experience of BAME Students at Leeds Arts University

18 October 2021

Research undertaken by the University’s Head of Research, Professor Samantha Broadhead, alongside facilitators from the postgraduate community (Ingrid Bale, Mahmuna Hussain and Kariim Case) seeks to explore the experience of Black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) students at the University.

Using a Community of Inquiry approach, whereby home students from BAME backgrounds were invited to meet with research facilitators to discuss and reflect upon their learning experiences within the University, the researchers sought to identify where this experience may be wanting, particularly in comparison to their white counterparts, and begin to explore potential strategies for improvement. It is worth noting here why the project uses the term BAME whilst recognising the issues with it. The term BAME is now often seen as too broad, and can disguise differing outcomes and disadvantages for specific ethnic groups.  However, as a small University where the participants would be drawn from a population where numbers in subgroups could be too narrow it was decided that the researchers would continue to use the BAME category, whilst being mindful that it was problematic.

Statistics, both from within the University and nationally, suggest that students from BAME backgrounds are less satisfied with their experience. Participation is generally lower, students from BAME backgrounds are more likely to drop out of their courses and there is a gap in attainment. By taking the Community of Inquiry approach, this research gave the participants the space to explore why this may be the case. The research team, made up of three research facilitators from Black and Asian backgrounds and two white researchers, arranged six focus groups, each managed by two of the research facilitators. Potential participants were identified and contacted directly, and focus groups took place away from areas where teaching and learning took place so students could contribute freely without fear of any negative impact on their education. All comments from the focus groups were anonymised.

There were some key themes of concern identified across the six focus groups so a number of recommendations were proposed by the participants, these included: comprehensive training for staff about how to recognise and deal with racist incidents; a forum for students to openly discuss these issues on a regular basis; and teaching to reflect a wide range of diverse practitioners and practices.

The findings of this research and the proposed recommendations were shared with the University’s management team. As a result, the University recently hosted their first Learning, Teaching and Enhancement Conference on the theme of Decolonising the Curriculum, giving staff and students the opportunity to openly discuss and reflect on issues and key themes raised. A summary of this event will be shared by the University later this month.

To read the research in full please contact Professor Samantha Broadhead at or download from the University repository.

Click here to find out more about ongoing research at the University.