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Department Projects

The Student Success Project facilitates a peer group of academic staff interested in work on the attainment of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students. In February 2017 members of the group were invited to submit bids for funding to run short term projects within their departments. Ten projects have subsequently been funded.

The projects centre around the themes of:

  • Awareness
  • Data Analysis
  • Student Feedback
  • Curriculum Review
  • Technology Enhancement

The details of five funded projects can be found below. A full report will be released for all of the projects on completion.

Department of Arts & Humanities

The Department of Arts & Humanities have employed students to conduct an overview and analysis of reading lists and curriculum content as set out in the 2016/17 module guides for English and Theatre. The aim is to note how diverse (or not) the content represented in the curriculum is, with respect to gender, race and ethnicity.  The data collected from this preliminary exercise will enable the teaching teams to review their curriculum and reading lists, but also  provide information on the feasibility of the approach.

Department of Computer Science

The Department of Computer Science will build a software tool for new students who may struggle while transitioning to the life at the university. Since a programme of study in university is more akin to a professional work environment rather than school or college, students will need to learn how to fit their personal life, family commitments, (possibly) part time work and leisure time around their academic commitments.

The software is intended to help students recognise conflicting demands in their new university life, and to help them, using a web-based weekly planning tool, plan a balanced schedule between work and personal life.

The project will also explore the possibility of using any captured data to help understand the challenges faced by students, and whether students “at-risk” can be identified to allow for early intervention.

The Brunel Business School

The Brunel Business School is undertaking a comprehensive analysis of home students graduating in 2017. The literature has identified cognitive load, self-efficacy and student engagement as factors that impact on student success, and as many aspects as possible of students’ background or life experience are being collected and correlated to student performance. The project aims to identify where best to concentrate student help and support in the future, so that BBS can make a long term impact on student success and ensure all students achieve their potential without barriers.

Department of Clinical Sciences

On Monday 13 March, 200 students, staff and guests attended a special event to discuss race and ethnicity in health, social care and higher education.   Following a screening of the award winning film ‘Dear White People’, the audience took part in a panel discussion with the poet and University of Manchester Chancellor Lemn Sissay, Brunel's Professor Benjamin Zephaniah and Professor Mariann Rand-Weaver.  Chairing the discussion was Brunel's social work lecturer Dr. Yohai Hakak.

‘Dear White People’ takes a satirical look at the experiences of a group of students from different ethnic backgrounds at a majority white Ivy League university in the US.  The panel highlighted the similarities between the racial and ethnic prejudice and discrimination experienced by American students in the film and British university students.

Professor Zephaniah highlighted the personal relationships created between students from different backgrounds which are highlighted in the film as one of the best ways of overcoming such prejudice. Professor Rand-Weaver talked about the research evidence relating to the BME Attainment Gap and the efforts Brunel University is making to understand how to create a more inclusive educational environment that will allow all students to succeed. Finally, Lemn Sissay reminded us all that as a research institution we are best placed to study the causes of the attainment gap as well as develop solutions for it.

Department of Life Sciences

The Department of Life Sciences is collecting data on the academic-related experiences of level 1 and 2 students which will be used to determine if the experience of BME/non-BME groups is the same.

The data will be analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively to establish findings about how similar or different the student experiences of BME and non-BME students are, and will also determine if there are differences between Biosciences, Sports Health and Exercise Sciences and Psychology students.

The results will inform action planning to improve BME academic achievement and the student experience and retention more generally.