The University of Southampton Awarding Gap Project

PUBLISHED : June 20, 2023

WORDS : Archive Team

The Awarding Gap Project is a widening participation and social mobility project aimed at reducing the awarding gaps that exists between Black and marginalised minority Ethnic students and white students.

There is an unspoken reality that Black students in higher education all over the UK are faced with today: the fact that there is a gap between Black and White students who achieve a degree outcome of a 2:1 or 1:1. Unfortunately, this gap exists throughout the HE sector and the University of Southampton is not an exception. The Awarding Gap Project was created because the university understands the necessity of working to eliminate such gaps. The project seeks to not only bring awareness to these disparities but also support Black students at the university to curate the change that they want to see.

An all-Black student panel was created as part of the project, through which students had the power to lead and make decisions on interventions. This dedicated panel made some great impact in a short space of time, beginning to create a visible community for themselves and their peers. One of their successes being a “Cultural Gala” hosted at the John Hansard Gallery, in celebration of Black African and Caribbean cultures.

“The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create.”

– Barack Obama

Those who attended the Cultural Gala, really felt that the project was making a difference on campus, with attendees stating: “The Awarding Gap Project exposes us to various cultures, black cultures and brings us together.”

Arguably, those who felt the impact of the project the most, were the members of the project panel. “I really appreciated learning about the black presence at university and really building the starting blocks for an inclusive space for black students at Southampton.” said Chido Chipato, Student Success and Inclusion Co-ordinator at the University of Southampton.

On a more personal note, when I graduated in 2020, from a different Russell Group university, I didn’t know that I was beating odds that were against. I wish I had the support of a project like this. I wish my peers and I could have been given the space to create a community for ourselves, and have the power to dictate what that looked like. I am therefore honoured to be able to now work with Black students to create such spaces and support them as the navigate their way through university.

For more information on the Awarding Gap Project, please visit the University of Southampton website