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GTRSB Pledge

Northumbria University is a signatory of the GTRSB Pledge.

Logo of the Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showmen, and Boaters PledgeBackground to the pledge

Barriers to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils' achievement in compulsory education, in turn reduce their access to HE as the likelihood of gaining the requisite grades at GCSE and A- Level needed to access HE are diminished. There are very few Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) university students and graduates in the UK, with an estimated average of 200 members of the communities in higher education at any one time (Greenfields, 2019; Mulcahy et. al. 2017).

Ensuring support and access to Higher Education for members of these ethnic minority populations, and the wider group of students included under the ‘GRT’ rubric by the OfS  (which includes students from New Traveller, Showman and Boater communities) is therefore a matter of social justice, impacting as it does, greater access to employment, increased social mobility, enhanced opportunity and visibility, and increased equality for members of the GRT populations.

What is the purpose of the pledge?

The GTRSB into Higher Education Pledge consists of a firm commitment by a University, College or educational institution to undertake certain steps to support GTRSB (Gypsies, Travellers, Roma, Showmen & Boaters) students into and within higher education. The Pledge is designed to support best practice in ensuring monitoring of data; inclusive pedagogy and representation in the academy, and the development of widening participation practice to support GTRSB students and potential students.

The Pledge has been developed after consultation by Buckinghamshire New University with GTRSB community members (graduates, students and academic staff who are members of the communities); civil society organisations, university representatives, and education policy specialists. It is underpinned by robust research findings, and consideration of effective widening participation interventions in supporting members of the communities into and within HE.The Pledge sets out to deliver effective practice and also create an open and welcoming environment where members of the communities can be confident that their culture and learning needs are understood by the institution which they attend, or which they are interested in attending.

Our Commitment

As a signatory of the GTRSB into Higher Education Pledge, Northumbria University marks its firm commitment to undertaking steps to support GTRSB students into, and within, higher education.

Professor Andrew Wathey CBE, former Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University said: “We recognise that members of GTRSB communities experience considerable inequalities in access to education, along with prejudice and discrimination in everyday life. As a university we value diversity, and we are determined to ensure we provide an inclusive environment for all. In signing up to this pledge we commit to better understanding the experience of our GTRSB students and staff, so that we can work collaboratively to create environments where everyone feels welcomed, supported, and able to thrive."

Recent activity

Enhanced data collection:
The ethnicity categories which staff and students can self-identify with, when they start working or enrol to study at Northumbria, have been updated to offer a wider range of options. In addition, we look to provide opportunities for colleagues and students to self-identify, such as in our race equality survey (November 2022).

Awareness Training:
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller awareness training sessions have been provided by Friends, Families and Travellers for our colleagues.

The Open Page - Radio broadcast:
This was a dedicated, co-produced, radio broadcast. 'The Open Page,' showcased stories from GTRSB individuals which were collected as part of an arts project delivered in partnership between Dr Natalie Forster in the Department of Social Work, Education and Community at Northumbria University and Skimstone Arts, with support from the Arts Council England and Garfield Weston Foundation. You can listen to the broadcast online to hear from Northumbria University PhD Researcher Martin Gallagher, along with songs, stories, spoken word pieces and poems about the importance of learning and higher education opportunities for GTRSB members of the community.

Dr Rosaleen McDonagh - Travellers Talking Back:
This was a webinar with Dr McDonagh, a Northumbria PhD graduate, who made headlines in 2020 for becoming the first disabled female Traveller to earn a place on the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. Originally from Sligo, she is the fourth eldest in a family of twenty children. She worked in Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre for then years, managing the Violence Against Women programme, and remains a board member. She is a regular contributor to the Irish Times and has written ostensibly withing the framework of a Traveller feminist perspective. McDonagh's work includes Mainstream, The Baby Doll Project, Stuck, She's Not Mine and Rings.

Research & Projects:
Black Roseann., and Forster Natalie. (Ongoing) Mapping out the inclusion of Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, Showmen and Boater Communities in our Northumbria Curriculum
Forster Natalie & Gallagher, Martin. (2020). Exploring how Gypsy, Roma and Traveller students can best be supported to participate and thrive in higher education.
Forster Natalie., Gallagher, Martin., & Cooper, Christiana. (2022). Representations of Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showmen and Boater Communities in higher education widening participation discourse: A critical review and agenda for future research. 


More details about the pledge can be found on the Buckinghamshire New University website.


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