Enhancing attainment and belonging at the London College of Fashion: a proactive, personalised approach to address limitations of the academic support provision
Keywords:proactive, personalised, equity, awarding differentials, learning conversations
This paper shared a proactive approach, developed by the Academic Support department in London College of Fashion (LCF), designed to enhance equity of take up of the department’s tutorials and contribute to reducing awarding differences. The paper uses the term Black, Asian and minority ethnic students because University of the Arts London (UAL) uses it as one of the categories for students as part of its collection, analysis and reporting of institutional data. We recognise and acknowledge the terminology is overly broad and contested. Since the paper used UAL’s institutional data, it was working with UAL’s definitions, terminology and categorisations.
In late 2019, examination of university data indicated lower bookings by Year 3 Home Black, Asian and minority ethnic students (Malik et al., 2021) and International students, and lower enhancement for degree awards, compared to Home White students. LCF has an open-to-all offer of tutorials and dedicated final-year workshops. However, research identifies systemic obstacles encountered by some students within and outside universities (Snoussi and Mompelat, 2019; UUK, 2019). While the department’s offer appeared popular, it required self-initiation by students, which could be a barrier for students experiencing a limited sense of belonging within the College.
Drawing on compassionate and solutions-focused approaches, the generic offer was adapted to enable a lecturer-team to offer personalised support to students identified as having the greatest opportunity to benefit from tutorials. Now in its third year, the Proactive Approach has led to greater equity of take up of the department’s provision and higher outcomes for students taking it up. The intervention is being evaluated for the UAL Access and Participation Plan, and data to date suggests it can contribute to enhancing a sense of belonging and unit grades.
This learning development offer was tailored to be flexible for delivery within restricted time frames and the existing resource of the Academic Support department. Our hopes when sharing it with delegates included giving space to consider its benefits, limitations and potential opportunities to use institutional data to stimulate a redesign of a learning development offer to contribute to universities’ work for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
Keywords: proactive, personalised, equity, awarding differentials, learning conversations.
Malik, S., Ryder, M., Marsden, S., Lawson, R. and Gee, M. (2021) BAME: A report on the use of the term and responses to it: terminology review for the BBC and creative industries. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/diversity/documents/b.a.m.e.-terminology-review-report-plaintext.docx (Accessed: 6 March 2023).
Nuffield Foundation (2020) ‘First in family’ students are more likely to drop out of university’. Available at: https://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/news/first-in-family-university-students-need-more-guidance-navigating-education-system (Accessed: 5 June 2023).
Snoussi, D. and Mompelat, L. (2019) ‘We are ghosts’: race, class and institutional prejudice. London: Runnymede. Available at: https://www.runnymedetrust.org/publications/we-are-ghosts-race-class-and-institutional-prejudice (Accessed: 27 March 2022).
Universities UK (2019) Black, Asian and minority ethnic student attainment at UK universities: closing the gap. Available at: https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/sites/default/files/field/downloads/2021-07/bame-student-attainment.pdf (Accessed: 27 March 2022).
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