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Northumbria joins £2.5m scheme to support Black, Asian and minority ethnic scholars

26th January 2022

Northumbria University has joined four other North East Universities to support more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students and staff to widen access and participation in postgraduate research.

Lead by Durham University and in partnership with Northumbria University, Newcastle University, University of Sunderland and Teeside University, the project aims 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, 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. The project will focus 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.

Dr Pushkar Jha, Faculty Director of Post Graduate Research in the Faculty of Business and Law will lead Northumbria University’s contribution to the project, along with Dr Rick Hayman and Dr Benjamin Ajibade, Senior Lecturers in Health and Life Sciences and supported by Jenna Tudor, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager.

Professor Louise Bracken, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research), Northumbria University, said: “Pro:NE is an extremely important project that will provide the necessary springboard to transform support for students and staff of colour.

“We’re delighted to be working collaboratively with the other North East universities to share ideas, expertise and best practice to achieve the shared aim of strengthening opportunity in the North East.”

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, Durham University, 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.

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