Awards break down barriers to student success
Goldsmiths has celebrated the second year of its Equity Awards supporting Black, Asian and minority ethnic students at the College.
The Equity Awards give direct financial, academic and network support to students who face additional barriers to success in their studies.
The complementary strands of support are designed to actively address the degree awarding gap: the fact that, at a national level, a lower proportion of students from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are awarded First or Upper Second-class degrees compared to white students.
At an event on Tuesday 31 January, Equity Scholars joined with senior academic and leadership colleagues and donors to explore the impact of the programme so far.
Four Equity Scholars presented their work on the Illuminate project, an innovative, participatory approach to research and evaluate the impact of the Equity Awards led by Goldsmiths’ Dr Anna Carlile.
The event was also attended by donor and Goldsmiths graduate Harprit Sekhon, who reflected on their own time studying as an undergraduate and postgraduate student at the College, saying: “Goldsmiths offered me a chance to gain an education that opened windows in my mind. A landscape of the impossible, of worlds that were so incredible, vividly beautiful, life-like and yet so beyond my everyday reality."
Harprit also shared why supporting initiatives like the Equity Awards is so important: “I aspire to live my values and put my money where my mouth is: an education in the arts is precious and life changing. I want to support the arts and an education which offers the opportunity to exercise the imagination, and the beauty of learning for learning’s sake."
In the selection process for the Awards, additional priority is given to students who have experienced intersecting barriers to success in their education, such as being care-experienced, having a disability that affects their studies, or living in a low-participation neighbourhood.
Priority is also given to Lewisham residents, as part of Goldsmiths’ ongoing commitment to the local community.
Funding for the programme comes from a combination of Goldsmiths funds and philanthropic donations. The College has so far committed to funding 47 Awards of £9,000 through internal funding, or £423,000 in total. Philanthropic donations to the programme total £535,000.
The funds support the scheme's Equity Scholars who are currently pursuing their studies at Goldsmiths, with each receiving £3,000 per year for the duration of their undergraduate studies. The funding will also contribute to those who are successful in the 2023 application cycle.
Dr Marl’ene Edwin, Convenor for the Equity Awards, said: “We know that the barriers to higher education are disproportionately high for people of colour, and that there are a huge number of intersecting factors that raise these barriers even higher. As an institution, we refuse to accept this as the status quo.
“Financial support is an extremely important element of this programme – and one without which it could not function – but we also thought carefully about how to support our students in a holistic way, through peer and academic mentoring, skills development, creating a sense of a community and delivering more inclusion activities. Offering both – and involving students themselves in the process of evaluating the programme – is how we are aiming to make a meaningful difference.”
Professor Frances Corner, Warden of Goldsmiths, said: “Bringing talented people into education and supporting them to succeed, regardless of background, is a fundamental priority for us here at Goldsmiths. We’re enormously proud to support a highly diverse student body, and as such, to represent and serve our home borough of Lewisham.
“Through the Equity Awards, our university is making a tangible commitment to these students – but we’re also grateful for the huge generosity of our donors, whose additional support means we are able to do so much more than we could do alone.”
- To find out more about the Equity Awards programme, please email the Development and Alumni team: development (@gold.ac.uk)