L-R Claire Beerjeraz, Akosua Poku and Faith Wood

A student advisory panel has been launched by Edge Hill University as part of its ongoing commitment to collaborate with students to inform the delivery of its Access and Participation Plan (APP). 

The Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic advisory panel provides a platform for students to offer their ideas and opinions on the support that the University offers to its diverse student body. 

A team of student representatives from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds have been appointed to the panel to work in partnership with the University and steer its approaches to support the student community. 

Panel members including Claire Beerjeraz, Faith Wood and Akosua Poku will work closely with Edge Hill staff to improve the student experience for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students. 

With a key focus on Edge Hill’s APP targets and the national Widening Participation agenda, the panel has discussed the NUS and UUK report on the national 13 per cent awarding ‘gap’ between the proportion of UK-domiciled white students receiving a 2:1 or 1st degree classification compared to UK-domiciled students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. 

The students have also shared their views on how the University could deliver its APP commitments, and are involved in wider discussions relating to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).  

For example, the group has provided feedback and created content for a new staff-facing race, ethnicity and religion toolkit to help staff to support students and has also been actively involved in discussions about The Big Read, Edge Hill’s shared reading scheme in partnership with Kingston University. 

Several panel members are also supporting the University as role models on its new Diversity Access Programme and are working at open days and applicant visit days as student guides. 

Claire Beerjeraz
Claire Beerjeraz

Claire Beerjeraz, who is currently studying an MSc in Psychotherapy and Counselling, said: “Since the formation of the student advisory panel, we’ve been working closely with staff at Edge Hill to improve the student experience for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and other marginalised groups to instil them with a sense of belonging and to ensure they feel seen and heard. 

“Working together, we want to take action on issues such as the degree awarding gap, while also making sure this information is accessible and communicated to the student community.” 

The panel have discussed a range of topics since they were established in January, with staff from various teams across the University attending meetings to seek student views on their support services. 

Faith Wood

Faith Wood, who is studying Business & Management, said: “We want to work towards making the University feel like a more culturally diverse place to be. We’re hoping to achieve this by helping new and prospective students to adapt to university life and essentially raising the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic presence on campus to help people like ourselves feel fully represented.” 

Claire added: “The panel is an open opportunity for students to get involved with and we’ve already made good progress in this academic year, despite the struggles that the pandemic has brought. But there’s still a lot more work to be done and this is an opportunity for both current and prospective students to get involved in. We need to continue to build on the legacy of this panel to ensure students remain engaged and are able to reach and achieve in higher education.” 

Akosua Poku

Adult Nursing student Akosua Poku said: “I joined the panel to make great changes to the lives of both prospective and current students. My ambition for the panel is to influence decisions and changes that will lead to the satisfaction of all students, particularly for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups.” 

Edge Hill University has committed to developing its EDI agenda over the past 12 months, having recently published its new EDI strategy after commissioning Advanced HE’s research team to conduct a bespoke review of its policies. The University also launched its International Centre on Racism (ICR) in 2019 to deliver advanced research on global questions concerning racism, building on the University’s long history of antiracism work. 

Dr Heather Piggott, Strategic Lead for Access and Participation at Edge Hill, said: “Edge Hill University prides itself on being a champion of widening participation and the theme of opportunity for all is a key component of our vision. The University has been bold in its ambition to enhance the experience for our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic student community, through both our Access and Participation Plan and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, but we recognise that there is still more work to be done. 

“The creation of our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic student advisory panel is just one in a series of measures we are taking to inform our decision making and to raise awareness of the diverse community we represent. We’re looking forward to continuing our collaborative work with the panel members and learning from the invaluable insights and influence they offer. I would like to thank our panel members for their brilliant contributions this academic year, especially given that all our meetings have taken place online, their commitment to this important work is fantastic.” 

If you are interested in joining our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic student advisory panel when it re-starts in the next academic year or would like to know more about our Access and Participation Plan work, please contact [email protected]