Skip to content

Race Equity Activity Library

The degree awarding gap has been a longstanding issue in higher education. The nature of the gap suggests that there is a need for “institutional actors” to develop our understanding of structural and institutional racism in order to make a difference in student outcomes and experience.  

The Race Equity Activity Library (REAL) resources are aligned with what the NUS/UUK report (2019) identified were the key components that made a difference in race equity in the university and provide a framework for activities which can support your team to develop your racial literacy. 

Click on the following headings to jump to the relevant section.

  1. Providing Strong Leadership.
  2. Having conversations about race and changing culture.
  3. Developing racially diverse and inclusive environments.
  4. Getting the evidence and analysing the data on the attainment gap.
  5. Understand what works.
  6. Building Knowledge
  7. Past events, resources and reports.



1.Providing strong leadership

University leaders and senior managers need to demonstrate a commitment to removing the BAME attainment gap and lead by example. UUK and NUS have created a checklist for university leaders to draw upon when considering how to address their institution’s attainment gap. degree awarding gap and lead by example.

Here we present our Student Race Equity corporate 5 year action plan (April 2021) which reflects the university’s commitment. You can also access a wide range of resources:


2.Having conversations about race and changing cultures

Universities and students need to create more opportunities to talk directly about race, racism and the attainment gap and to identify what students think is causing it. A change in culture is needed alongside a clear institutional message that issues of race are embedded within strategic goals.


Want to start a conversation about ‘Microaggressions’? Check out our ‘Micro? Aggressions – recognise, reflect, resist’ hour long interactive online session, seeking to identify and raise awareness of the nature and impact of microaggressions and micro-inequities in their various guises. The session proposes two ‘acts of resistance’ that can frame our responses to actions which foster change.  

The difference between being non and anti-racist

Most of us, says Marlon James, writer and winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize  are  non-racist. While that leaves us with a clear conscience, he argues, it does nothing to help fight injustice in the world. In this short video he explains the difference between being non and anti racist.

Mentoring Programmes

We are about to pilot a new mentoring programme which will use Tara Yosso’s work on Community Cultural Wealth Approaches  to help BME students to recognise and learn from the cultural knowledge, skills, abilities and contacts that they have but that often go unrecognised. Please contact the team if you’d like to get involved.

Sheffield Hallam also operates a number of University-wide mentoring schemes:

  • The Hallam Career Mentoring Programme which is University wide and runs from September to April. The aim of the scheme is to match current students with industry professionals to help students progress into careers to which they hope to progress upon graduation. The mentoring relationship does this by not only building student confidence, but also by building their professional network and experience within the sector they hope to progress within.
  • The Female Futures mentoring scheme is a new project which consists of a monthly talk from a female currently working in industry. Each month will have a different theme with a different female from a different industry each month. There will also be skills sessions each month in the Careers Centre, such as; self-confidence, resilience, commercial skills, negotiation skills, managing-up, dealing with conflict and voice projection.

Understand the process of whiteness (white privilege)

A collection of short videos that encourage us to broaden our understanding of difference and discusses the heart and mind gap to develop our understanding of the construction of race in society;

Student Perspectives

Is my uni racist? – Britain’s universities are some of the most prestigious in the world, but are they safe places for students of colour? Reporter Linda Adey investigates the experiences of black and ethnic minority students at British unis and examines what happens when victims of racist abuse at university want to complain. Watch the BBC iPlayer video to learn more.

Films that centre around institutional racism, unconscious bias and the impact this can have on retention and attainment for BAME students. Created by students, these short films articulate their understanding of the racial inequity and their experiences and understanding of HE as BME students. The videos are not focused on unconscious bias but the role, function and experience of institutional racism.

Tension addresses the topic of institutional racism and the gap in student retention amongst BAME (Black, Asian and Minority, Ethnic) students within British universities. The film was inspired by analysing statistical data that highlighted the unexplained dropout rate of BAME students. The film attempts to provide an real insight into unconscious racial harassment within the Higher Education system and the micro-aggressions that often go unnoticed. 

Media and News

The Tyranny of Positivity – Four Thought. Here Sian Ejiwunmi-Le Berre argues against the tyranny of positivity, which forms part of a culture of ‘performative wellness’.

Inclusive Employers: their latest podcast episode focuses on anti-racism in the workplace. Host Steven Copsey, Senior Inclusion and Diversity Consultant, is joined by special guests Baron Anyangwe, Head of Finance at Marks and Spencer and Sandy Sohal, our Special Project Consultant.  They discussed what progress had been made to progress anti-racism in the last 12 months and what more can be done. Hear their experiences, top tips and expert advice for developing anti-racism in your workplace. Anti-racism is a focus for Inclusive Employers during National Inclusion Week too, as they’ll be launching their anti-racism toolkit. 

Tackling racism on campus: Raising awareness and creating the conditions for confident conversations – An Advance HE Project funded by SFC and led by an expert group of EDI practitioners, academics, tertiary education staff and students.

Has George Floyd Changed Britain?  The passing of the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, Sir Trevor McDonald and Charlene White hosted a new hour-long documentary for ITV exploring its impact for people living in the UK. 

Back to top

3.Developing racially diverse and inclusive environments.

University leadership teams are no representative of the student body and some curriculums do not reflect minority groups’ experiences. A greater focus is needed from universities, working with their students, on ensuring that BAME students have a good sense of belonging at their university, and on understanding how a poor sense of belonging might be contributing to low levels of engagement and progression to postgraduate study. 

Glossary of definitions

Take a look at our Glossary of Definitions and visit our range of resources, activities and a set of critical questions to guide the development, implementation and evaluation of behaviours, curriculum and conversation that impacts on racial equity. 

Decolonising the curriculum

One of the areas of focus for Sheffield Hallam’s work around the Degree Awarding Gap is for us to think about what strategies could be put in place – with care and involving students – to ‘decolonise the curriculum’. Decolonising the curriculum requires us to consider, and then address, how the values, norms, thinking, beliefs and practices that frame the curriculum perpetuate white, westernised hegemony and position anything non-European and not white as inferior. Please take a look at the following range of resources focused on this theme:

Sheffield Hallam guidance

  • Creating an inclusive reading list and decolonising the curriculum through the reading lists that you create for your course/module.
  • You can find a range of books and articles to celebrate and explore themes related to Black Lives Matter. All the resources listed are in the Hallam Library collections and are available to borrow for free by Sheffield Hallam University students or staff. Visit the Library Reading Lists Online page to learn more.
  • Project to decolonise archival material – a Hallam-supported Polyvocal Interpretation of Contested Cultural Heritage project (PICCH)  lead by Professor Daniela Petrelli and Dr Rinella Cere and scheduled to run until April 2023.  Visit the College of Social Sciences and Arts (SSA) SharePoint site for further details. 
  • Hallam Race Network – hosted their presentation Emancipating (Decolonising) The Mind and Other Tricks on 25th  June. This online event focussed on how colonisation has affected the way our minds see the world and how this can lead to discrimination and bias. The guest speaker, Jass Thethi, explored the steps we can take as individuals to remove this colonised lens and work to view the world through a social justice model and become allies to minoritised groups.

Sheffield Hallam: Students’ Union

Launched its ‘Why Is My Curriculum White Campaign’.  Founded at UCL, is a national movement aiming to encourage a broader diversity of course content in education. The movement aims to decolonise and critically challenge course content and perspectives offered through the accepted Western white canon of knowledge. 

External resources

Diversity in the Workplace

On 15th June 2021, a HR strategic group hosted by Dr Nighet Riaz, Advance HE, Sue Clyne, Edinburgh College, Mia Liyanage, Researcher, Advance HE and Yasmeen Hussain, Expert Working Group Member, University of Strathclyde delivered their presentation Tackling the underrepresentation of ethnic diversity in the workplace. You can also watch their session

4.Getting the evidence and analysing the data on the attainment gap.

Universities need to take a more scientific approach to tackling the attainment gap, by gathering and scrutinising data in a far more comprehensive way than they may currently be doing, in order to inform discussions between university leaders, academics, practitioners and students. Take a look at the Degree Awarding Gap dashboard for data information. 

Back to top

5.Understand what works

Universities can work together to address gaps in the evidence-base by using applied research to ensure that evidence on ‘what works’ is high quality, and share evidence of what works and what doesn’t. As a first step, UUK has created a collection of case studies, which universities and students are encouraged to engage with and develop.

Learning from Sector practice

To identify some of the targeted actions that have taken place in the sector and to use these as a starting point/learning opportunity to inform future work within Colleges and Departments. Universities UK: Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Student Attainment at UK Universities – case studies #ClosingTheGap

What are other HE institutions doing?

There are a number of universities with mentoring schemes. We will add to this list over time but a few examples are below:

  • The Beyond Barriers Mentoring Scheme at Kingston University aims to ensure that all of their students and staff have the best possible chance to succeed in their study or work. The Beyond Barriers Mentoring Scheme is available for both staff and students. The aim of the student arm of the scheme is to enable students to create a stable and secure foundation for university life;
  • The University of Brighton runs a number of mentoring schemes aimed at BME students as well as other students who might benefit from additional support;
  • Dare to Be is a mentoring scheme at De Montfort University. It aims to improve student confidence, self-belief and motivation. At the heart of the scheme is a focus on attainment, promoting students to do well in their studies and reach their full potential. Student mentees are matched to a mentor for one-to-one mentoring, which takes place during the academic year.

Community initiatives

The following organisations offer a number of supportive initiatives which, whilst not necessarily directly designed to address differential outcomes, support those from Black, Asian and Minoritised ethnic groups to progress in to employment;

Back to top


6.Building Knowledge

These asynchronous workshops provide an opportunity for you to have a more in-depth delve into some of key areas of study when it comes to equity and promoting an inclusive culture at Hallam. The CPD workshops are designed for you to use on your own, or as part of a team development activity. There are a number of sessions in these series, with more in development.

  • Check out our ‘Micro? Aggressions – recognise, reflect, resist’ hour long interactive online session, seeking to identify and raise awareness of the nature and impact of microaggressions and micro-inequities in their various guises. The session proposes two ‘acts of resistance’ that can frame our responses to actions which foster change.  
  • Race Equity Detours

If there is a particular topic that you’d like to see discussed – please contact the team.

We also provide other opportunities to engage with your teams, the Equity Accomplices  and the Leading Race Equity (in pilot) at SHU are also examples. Please get in contact with the team for a further discussion about how we can support your engagement in the equity agenda. 

7.Past Events, Resources and Reports

Hallam Events and Resources

External Events and Resources 

Advance HE

Advance HE’s Knowledge hub highlight a number of resources on race inequality and race identity: 

Universities UK – Anti-racist academic practice

A new set of recommendations designed to decisively tackle racial harassment as part of efforts to address racial inequality in UK higher education. The recommendations are the product of an advisory group convened by UUK in October 2019 and come just over a year after the Equality and Human Rights Commission uncovered widespread evidence of racial harassment on university campuses. Take a look at:

If you are new to the notion of the ‘attainment gap by ethnicity’, a good place to start is with the report: ‘The Ethnicity Attainment Gap: Literature Review’. Miriam Miller – April 2016.

The Universities UK blog summary report  was produced following a project which included several members of Hallam including Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice Chancellor at Sheffield Hallam University. Chris was a member of the vice-chancellors’ working group that provided feedback and a strategic view for the project, and Professor Jacqueline Stevenson and Aloma Onyemah provided contributions and guidance.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission [EHRC] has published a report on racial harassment in British universities. This is the first significant study of the issue across the sector and makes it plain that racial harassment is all too often a fact of life for minority staff and students.  It concludes that universities have not been sufficiently equipped to recognise and respond to racial harassment, are unaware of the scale of the issue and have been overconfident in their ability to handle it. It is, in short, a damning report. Sheffield Hallam University is committed to advancing race equality and creating a racially inclusive culture for everyone who works and studies here.  Participation in the EHRC survey was voluntary, and this University participated in the survey willingly.  But, like other universities across the sector, we have a good deal of work to do.

New nationwide tool to support equality in Higher Education

Headed by Dr. Lucy Jones, the ESPRC funded project introduces the EDI Resource Bank – a new open-access database hosted by the University of Nottingham to support those engaging in EDI in UK universities.

A collection of reports and papers from across the sector that encompass the sections above, including content from our own Hallam colleagues. If you’d like to contribute to this collection, please contact the team

Support Resources: Towards Narrowing the Degree Awarding Gap – Curated by Sehrish Tahir, Department for Education, Childhood and Inclusion, SSA

Departmental Initiatives

Our decolonising work has already begun in the University and includes a number of;

Back to top

This page is managed by the Academic Development & Diversity Team and if you have any queries about the information and resources please contact the team.

Last updated: 27th April 2021 NB