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The ‘why’ surrounding our research – An update from your BAME Research Ambassador

What is the BAME awarding gap?

The BAME awarding gap refers to the difference in receiving a "good Honours degree" (1st class or 2:1) between White British students and BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) students. In the academic year 2020/2021, the gap was approximately 9%, an improvement on recent years, but still not good enough. Here at Sheffield Hallam University, the BAME awarding gap is larger than the higher education sector average, and the institution is taking steps towards closing it.

Why does it matter?

First of all, the University is obligated to work towards reducing this awarding gap, as it is a violation of anti-discrimination laws to allow the gap to remain without intervention.

The consequences for students are large too. Often, postgraduate study and graduate jobs will require a 2:1 grade or higher to admit students to their schemes. Given the fact that BAME students are less likely to be awarded good Honours grades than White students, they will also be less likely to progress onto further study and well-paid graduate roles. This leads to a perpetuation of a system where representation of BAME individuals reduces as you look higher up in academic and professional institutions.

We know that BAME students aren't at fault for average lower awarding - every student has the potential to be successful, it is just that some students are given more institutional and societal hurdles to topple in order to reach this potential. As a Students' Union, we want to contribute to the removal of these hurdles so that every student has the ability to succeed without hinderance.

What are we doing about it?

Sheffield Hallam University is already working hard within each of the colleges and various courses to address the awarding gap by diversifying curriculums, educating staff on BAME issues, and introducing mentoring schemes. We welcome SHU's approach, and the university has seen a reduction in its awarding gap in recent years.

At Sheffield Hallam Students' Union, we want to centre students' voices and perceptions of their academic life to help reduce the BAME awarding gap at SHU. To do this, we are launching a research project on the BAME student experience to explore your opinions of the barriers to academic success and your perceptions of the work the University and Students' Union are already doing to address these issues.

How can I get involved?

Fill out our survey on student perceptions of your university experience and how they may contribute to the awarding gap. The survey is open to all students regardless of ethnicity and there is a chance to win a prize to thank you for your time.

Grab a free ticket to our screening of Re:Tension, a film about the BAME student experience, followed by a Q&A with the director, Ricardo Barker.

Where can I access support for issues raised?

Your university support triangle is your first port of call - you can chat to your Student Support Adviser if you find yourself struggling to balance life and study.

Report and Support - here you can report hate crimes, racism, bullying and microaggressions.

Student Rights Team - grab a group of passionate people and start a campaign! Email us at


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