The University of Bath has pledged to tackle “structural inequalities” linked to race within its student body by commissioning specialist services for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students and an audit of its mental health services.
The programme began after a report by the Office for Students identified that black students with a declared mental health condition are more likely to drop out of university in the UK than their peers.
The attainment gap between black and white students with a mental health condition is nearly 27% – a figure the regulator described as “extremely high”.
Only three-quarters (77%) remain at university after their first year, compared with 87% of all students with a declared mental health condition.
It is essential that we address the attainment gap faced by black students, and particularly those also experiencing mental health difficulties
– Prof Rajani Naidoo, head of the anti-racism taskforce at the University of Bath
Dr Cassie Wilson, vice-president for student experience, said the university had a “responsibility to remove […] structural inequalities and provide all our students with an equal opportunity for achievement, success and wellbeing”.
To do this, Bath has contracted Nilaari – a black, Asian and minority ethnic-led Bristol-based charity offering therapy and counselling services – to offer services to students at the university.
The charity director will “meet regularly” with the director of student services, Anthony Payne, and the head of the anti-racism taskforce, Prof Rajani Naidoo, to “discuss thematic issues affecting black students” at the University of Bath.
Students can also speak to a University of Bath BAME counsellor via phone or live chat 24-hours-a-day.
The university has also commissioned Rotimi Akinsete, a therapeutic counsellor, clinical supervisor and associate dean of students at the University of the Arts London, to audit its mental health provision.
Prof Naidoo said: “It is really positive to see this bespoke programme being developed to support black students in the particular challenges they may face at universities. It is essential that we address the attainment gap faced by black students, and particularly those also experiencing mental health difficulties.”
“[I] would like to pay tribute to the students who have been instrumental in the development” of the programmes, Dr Wilson added.
Bath has also helped launch the Black Students Network development programme, a seven-week programme “focussing on self-esteem, imposter syndrome and the experiences and challenges faced at university”, the university said.