12 November 2021

The University's Dean for the Office of Institutional Equity, Professor Bugewa Apampa, has spoken about inclusive learning and leadership at the Reykjavík Global Forum - Women Leaders' event.

Professor Apampa took part in a panel discussion alongside Aparna Piramal Raje of Anant University, India, to reflect on how more inclusive academic institutions can be built. 

Chaired by Insead's Dirk Luyten, the women discussed how all students should be supported to access, succeed and progress into high-skilled jobs.

Professor Apampa said,

In the UK, we have been very successful with access to university through the widening participation agenda, but this hasn't resulted in equity of outcomes. If you are Black or Ethnic Minority, or are disabled, or are a mature student, then you are less likely to get a good degree, and therefore less likely to get into a professional job."

The panellists discussed how to be more inclusive to support student learning.

Examples included being mindful of bias, stereotype threat and digital poverty amongst students.

Bugewa Apampa with the Icelandic PM

Professor Apampa continued,

"It is about how you make people feel. When you care, you find you can engage those students better, particularly those students facing intersectionalities of ethnicity and deprivation. 

There are three things that affect student learning. One - the culture experienced, two - the student capital - for example linguistic (idioms being used) and navigational (how do you do university?) A lot of students do not have academic capital. They come in and study any course you have admitted them for and think 'that's what I'm supposed to be doing'. They haven't got support to select the right course for them. "

"The third thing is Colour - I mean representation. The fastest growing demographic in UK Higher Education are Ethnic minority students. We are the global ethnic majority really. But when you look at the leadership of the university or those who teach, the majority are not diverse. Yet students have to engage with a curriculum which is mostly Euro-centric in front of people that don't look like them."

Bugewa Apampa with head of Adecco Group

While discussing the fact she is one of just 35 Black female professors in the UK out of a total of 23,000, Professor Apampa also reflected on and asked questions such as 'Who are the gatekeepers of opportunity?' 'Who decides on what excellence is?' 'Who decides on what ability is'? 

"These are courageous questions that I say we should ask. Noting that UEL's data is better than the national average with regards to inclusivity, we have to understand what inclusivity means.  It is about being able to bring your true self to work. Of not being afraid of being able to speak. To speak from your soul."

 "I don’t accept that there’s nothing we can do. Inclusion is like a marathon. We will get there."

Professor Apampa added.

The Reykjavík Global Forum aims to harness the collective power of women leaders to further advance society while promoting and positively developing the number of women in leadership positions. 

To watch Professor Apampa speak, watch this YouTube video from 1h26.

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