Durham University is leading a new £2.5m project to support more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students and staff to widen access and participation in postgraduate research.
Newcastle University, Northumbria University, University of Sunderland and Teesside University have joined forces with Durham University for the pro:NE project, to tackle inequalities in higher education by building community and inclusion through mutually hosted events, training and workshops.
The project will provide opportunities, activities and events including training, e-conferences, peer mentoring and PhD studentships for staff and students of colour over a period of four years.
The project has received over £2.5 million in funding, including from the Office for Students (£798,972) and partner universities, to strengthen the pathway for prospective and current students of colour across North East England into academic employment through focusing on four key areas: mental health, development, mentoring and admissions.
A specialist mental health pathway was established for students of colour in collaboration with Newcastle Psychological Therapies Clinic. For the first time, postgraduate research students of colour in North East England will be able to access independently governed and culturally competent mental health services as a priority.
Each year one institution will host an online postgraduate research conference for students of colour, providing networking and development opportunities whilst sharing learning and best practice.
The reciprocal mentoring programme will bring together students of colour with academic staff, providing mutually beneficial learning and development whilst building relationships and community. Early career researchers of colour will be paired with senior leaders to support mutual learning, which will complement peer mentoring across the North East England network.
The project is also ambitious in relation to admissions and will build on the findings of prior research on name-blinding, unconscious bias prevention and contextualised admissions to pilot innovative approaches to admissions, alongside policy and practice reviews.
All five universities have a strong track record and experience in delivering inclusion interventions that support, drive and sustain greater equality for all, including traditionally underrepresented groups.
Project lead Professor Jason Arday said: “Pro:NE has emerged as a means of dismantling racism and creating more opportunities for academics of colour to enter the Academy particularly in the North East of England. This project will create a legacy within the region which will nurture, support and develop academic pathways and communities of practice for students and staff of colour, in addition to creating spaces of belonging.”
Pro:NE will facilitate in breaking down elitism and building local community, making each university a more welcoming place to be for students and staff of colour.
(Featured image: Durham University via Flickr)