In February 2019, Leading Routes hosted a closed round table discussion with key stakeholders to explore the factors influencing Black students’ experiences in securing fully funded postgraduate research (PhD) places. The initial focus of the talk was to address the relationship between the BME Attainment Gap and accessing UK research council funded PhD places in UK universities.
The meeting brought together sector professionals, students, academics and representatives from various higher education institutions and research funding councils. The aim was to discuss, in practical terms, how the sector can work collaboratively to address the long-term implications of the undergraduate BME attainment gap, in relation to further study.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) brings together the seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England and is by far the UK’s largest postgraduate funder. A Freedom of Information request to UKRI revealed that over the last three academic years (2016/2017 – 2018/2019), of the total 19,868 PhD funded studentships awarded by UKRI research councils collectively, 245 (1.2%) were awarded to Black or Black Mixed students, with just 30 of those being from Black Caribbean backgrounds (UKRI, 2019).
The report includes highlights of the conversation and further research carried out by Leading Routes, along with recommendations for the research councils, university policy makers and decision-makers within the higher education sector.