The University of Plymouth is partnering in a new project that will seek to support and nurture Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) female academics in UK higher education.

Generation Delta, led by the University of Leeds in collaboration with Plymouth and four other institutions, will focus on a range of methods to secure a long-term increase in the diversity of female professors.

The four-year project will run until 2026 and has been granted almost £800,000 from UKRI. Its other partners are Goldsmiths College and the universities of Reading, Sheffield and Sunderland.

With national figures revealing underrepresentation of BAME women in postgraduate research (PGR) compared to undergraduate level and taught masters, Generation Delta will look to address both institutional and individual barriers experienced at different stages of the postgraduate researcher lifecycle: accessing the academy; retention and progression; and training for careers.

Shaofeng Liu, Professor of Operations Management and Decision Making in the Plymouth Business School, is one of six BAME professors orchestrating the work. 

“We know that there is a need to improve the diversity of senior academics across the higher education sector,” 

said Professor Liu, 

“and we can only begin to do that if we focus upon our postgraduate research students and address some of the barriers that are preventing them from developing a career in the Academy.”

All of the partnering institutions will contribute to all three areas, with planned work including the hosting of round-table discussions, workshops, and focus groups. The final stage will be to create a BAME Female PGR Student Network and mentoring scheme across the six institutions before being rolled out nationwide. As part of this, Gen Delta Champions will be selected to take forward the network.

“For various reasons, the pipeline of talent for BAME women is not flowing as it should when it comes to progressing through the different stages of their career,”
 said Professor Liu. 

“Through training, mentoring and networking, we can seek to address that and ensure that we remove barriers to progression and inspire the leaders of tomorrow.”

PGR Co-ordinator at Plymouth Business School, Dr Lijun Tang, who is part of the Plymouth Team for the Gen Delta project, added: 

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to join force with other institutions to timely address the key issue of BAME students in PGR study, and to link their study to future career development.”

Generation Delta was one of 13 projects funded by UKRI to a sum of £8m all focused upon improving Black, Asian and minority ethnic students' access to postgraduate research.

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