Closing the Degree Awarding Gap

What the Degree Awarding Gap (also known as the Attainment Gap) is and what Goldsmiths is doing to address it.

Primary page content

The degree awarding gap, also known as the attainment gap, is the difference in the proportion of Good (First or 2:1) degrees being awarded to different groups of students, with the biggest gaps existing between students of different ethnicities.  

Data for the sector as a whole shows that in 2020-21 the gap between the percentage of white students and Black, Asian and minority ethnic students achieving a first or 2:1 for their degree was 8.8%, down from 13.2% for 2018 graduates.

The Degree Awarding Gap at Goldsmiths

Reflective of the broader sector, Goldsmiths is no exception to degree awarding gaps by ethnicity.

Across all undergraduate students in 2021-22, 93.2% of white students at Goldsmiths obtained a First or 2.1 degree classification. This compares to:

  • 92.5% of Mixed ethnicity students
  • 90.5% of Arab students
  • 87.1% of Chinese students
  • 80.1% of Asian students
  • 75% of Black students

Good honours for white students continue to be significantly higher than for students of all other ethnic groups. The proportion of good honours awarded to Black students fell by 11.6 percentage points in 2021-22 compared to 2020-21.

A negative degree awarding gap of 10.18% exists between white students and students of other ethnicities at Goldsmiths, as detailed below:

  • Mixed ethnicity students 0.7% gap
  • Arab students: 2.7% gap
  • Chinese students: 6.1% gap
  • Asian students: 13.1% gap
  • Black students: 18.2% gap

Work being done to tackle this

Closing the degree awarding gap by ethnicity is one of the core objectives of the Goldsmiths Race Justice Strategy, to be delivered through the strategy’s Decolonised Curriculum Workstream.

This follows targets set by the College in its Access and Participation Plan to reduce the attainment gap between UK domiciled full-time Black and white students to 9.6 percentage points, a target set using a baseline of 2017-18 data when the gap was 22.5 percentage points.

The Insider-Outsider report provides a detailed insight into how institutional racism can play a role in affecting degree outcomes at Goldsmiths.

Working with sector partners

Goldsmiths was among the first signatories to Closing the Gap, a joint initiative between Universities UK and the National Union of Students to develop a framework for approaches to address the attainment gap. 

Goldsmiths submitted two case studies that were included in the report: our commitment to publishing annual data on the attainment gap and Liberate our Library (an initiative to deliver on the Liberate our degrees commitment contained in the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy).