The four-year project led by Sheffield Hallam is being run in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University and Advance HE and will provide mentoring and support to Black students to undertake postgraduate research.
The project, Accomplished Study Programme in Research Excellence (ASPIRE), will also provide three funded PhD studentships for Black students as part of the programme.
It is one of 13 projects funded by Research England – part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – and the Office for Students (OfS), across English higher education providers and their partners.
The projects, worth nearly £8 million, are innovative in scope, scale and focus to an extent that has not been seen in England before. Delivered over the next four years, they will improve access into research, enhance research culture and the experience for Black, Asian and minority ethnic postgraduate students, and diversify and enhance routes into a range of careers.
Dr Francis Awolowo, Senior Lecturer in Financial and Management Accounting, and institutional lead on Sheffield Hallam’s ASPIRE project said:
“As a black academic who has recently competed their doctoral education, I am delighted to win this opportunity to inspire, motivate and inform future cohorts and to fix the broken pipeline. Our innovative ASPIRE programme, developed in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University and AdvanceHE, is aimed at enabling black and black-heritage UK-domiciled students to navigate structural barriers to doctoral study and enhance pathways of opportunity, through inclusive targeting”
Prof Doug Cleaver, Director of Sheffield Hallam University’s Doctoral School said:
“While we are proud of the excellent work taking place across our University to support equality, diversity, and inclusion, we also continuously seek to build on these commitments. The three funded projects announced today will enable us to develop our approaches to PGR study by learning from our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students. Additionally, by collaborating with employers and other universities, we will be well placed to disseminate our enhanced practice regionally and nationally, thereby achieving fundamental and sustained change.”
Sheffield Hallam is also a partner in two further successful bids.
It is part of a region-wide project led by the University of York, the Yorkshire Consortium for Equity in Doctoral Education (YCEDE), to help reform admissions criteria and practices to better assess applicants’ potential to undertake ground-breaking research. Through bespoke mentoring and training, as well as new student internships and PhD scholarships, YCEDE will look to inspire and train talented BAME scholars.
Sheffield Hallam is also involved in a third bid led by Nottingham Trent University with other partners including Liverpool John Moores University, the UK Council for Graduate Education, Grit Break Through Programmes, and several NHS Trusts.
Equity in Doctoral Education through Partnership and Innovation (EDEPI) will improve access and participation across three modern universities. It will target recruitment, admissions and transition as critical points of systemic inequality in doctoral education.
A full list of successful bids can be found on the Research England website.