Ethnicity degree awarding gap

Ethnicity degree awarding gap

Image shows three students around a laptop working together

The ‘ethnicity degree awarding gap’ is the difference between the percentage of white UK students awarded a first-class or 2:1 degree (what is known as a ‘good honours degree’) and the percentage of ethnically minoritised UK students awarded a first-class or 2:1 degree.

For our UK-domiciled students who completed their undergraduate courses in 2022, the aggregated total gap is -15.3 percentage points. What this means is that 79.5% of white students at Sheffield Hallam University were awarded a good honours degree as compared with 64.2% of ethnically minoritised students. However, there are variations across the university departments, with some subject areas having much smaller gaps and others with bigger gaps.

Research shows many factors can explain the difference in the final degree results for all students, including gender, socio-economic background, and previous qualifications. However, when these factors are controlled, a gap based on the ethnicity still remains.

Sheffield Hallam University is committed to minimising and eventually removing this gap. We believe all students should have access to equal opportunities in a fair, inclusive environment.

Sheffield Hallam University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Chris Husbands talks about our commitment to addressing the gap.

Having a degree attainment gap between our white and our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students is unacceptable. Reducing and eradicating the gap requires sustained effort from all staff, working alongside our students

This problem is not unique to Sheffield Hallam University. The graphs below show our position against the rest of the sector.

Image is of a graph showing good honours rates for Sheffield Hallam University and rest of the sector, it is broken down into two sections: BAME students and white students

It is important to note that figures can fluctuate quite widely from one year to another, and so it is often better to look at trends over several years. At Sheffield Hallam University, the overall gap has narrowed from -19.4 percentage points in 2018/19 to -15.3 percentage points in 2021/22. However, there is still much more work to be done in terms of closing the gap, and in aligning the university with the rest of the sector.

The Academic Development & Diversity team at Sheffield Hallam University works with university staff and students to deliver targeted actions to reduce the gap for ethnically minoritised  students, through an institutional wide Race Equality Corporate Action Plan (RECAP). The team provides support to academic staff to enable effective and inclusive pedagogic practice. Here, we detail the key elements of the RECAP and Hallam’s central initiatives that help to eradicate the degree awarding gap (PDF, 164.1KB).

There are also a substantial number of activities to address the gap at college and department level, for example: surveys of placement experiences of ethnically minoritised students; training opportunities for placement mentors; piloting the use of ethnically minoritised student ‘curriculum consultants’; staff development at local level; revising course induction programmes and implementing inclusive assessment processes.

Find out more:

If you’d like to learn more, contact the Academic Development and Diversity Team.