Do you really belong? Understanding the BAME attainment gap at Edinburgh University

Do you really belong? Understanding the BAME attainment gap at Edinburgh University.

School:  Edinburgh Medical School

Team Members:  Mohini Gray, David Hope, Jeni Harden, Meyra Coban, Kamya Choudhary, Sarah Shemery.


The origins of inequalities that hinder the progress of socially marginalised groups is an important question facing society. For over 20 years Edinburgh University (UoE) has noted that undergraduate students from a black and minority ethnic (BAME) background are less likely to be awarded a First or 2.1 degree. In UoE the university-wide attainment gap is 13.2%. A quarter of BAME Scottish domiciled undergraduate students are from the most deprived SMID quintile and also fall within the remit of the widening participation strategy to support students to “succeed and progress”. Whilst many universities have made efforts to address the “BAME attainment gap”, lags behind in its efforts to address this serious discrepancy. Student surveys consistently reveal that feelings of not belonging are central to this problem.

This project sets out to develop a deeper understanding of belonging from a BAME student’s perspective and gather their views on the origins and solution to the attainment gap. We will employ a qualitative approach, utilising semi-structured interviews of 50 BAME students across three colleges and five schools. This data will reveal the dominant themes that will be used to develop action plans that will inform discussions and engage with senior leaders on how best to address this most pressing of problems.

Final report

Download the final report (PDF)