We first compiled our Transparency data in 2019 and we expect our approach to develop over time. 

The data highlights a number of issues we are aware of, and are actively working to address.

Our Access and Participation Plan 2020-21 to 2024-25 sets out how we aim to do this, working to improve equality of opportunity for under-represented groups to access further study, achieve success at University and progress to graduate level employment.

Access and admissions

The gaps we've identified

  • A lower percentage of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students receive and accept offers compared to white students. The gap is biggest for black students. 
  • Students are less likely to apply, receive an offer or register if they are from the most deprived neighbourhoods. Neighbourhoods are categorised by the Office for Students as Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) quintile 1 and 5. Under this measure, people in IMD quintile 5 live in the least deprived areas and those in IMD quintile 1 live in the most deprived. 

The progress so far

Our approach over the last few years has helped to reduce these gaps.

We have increased the proportion of our students we recruit who are BAME in the last five years. This performance grew at the same rate as the sector until 2017/18, when there was a significant increase. This was due, in-part, to a 5% increase of BAME students progressing through our widening participation scheme Access to Leeds. The scheme continues to aid recruitment of a significant proportion of BAME students. Further details are in our Access and Participation Plan

We will continue to focus on increasing access for BAME students. This includes increasing our investment to engage with BAME, particularly black Caribbean, students, who are the most underrepresented BAME group (see page 6 of our Access and Participation Plan). Our approach will be informed by pilot interventions we have tried and evaluated for impact.

We have also identified a number of ways to improve the conversion between application, offer and acceptance, resulting in a higher percentage of students who apply receiving and accepting offers. This will include increasing use of contextual data (to assess an applicant’s previous attainment and potential, in the context of their individual circumstances).

We anticipate that our progress will accelerate over time and our aspiration is that gaps in access among under-represented groups will be completely closed.

Attainment and non-continuation

We are clear we must close gaps at all stages of the student lifecycle, including non-continuation (the proportion of students who do not complete their degree). Smaller groups including part-time and mature students must not be left behind. We will work to ensure all aspects of the university experience are inclusive and empowering all students to succeed.

The gaps we’ve identified

  • a lower percentage of BAME students attain the highest degree classifications (1st and 2:1) compared to white students. This gap is unexplained and we have begun research to understand the reasons.
  • students are less likely to compete their degree if they are from local areas with the lowest levels of participation in higher education (POLAR 4 Q1) than if they are from local areas with the highest levels of participation in higher education. POLAR classifies local areas into five groups - or quintiles - based on the proportion of 18 or 19 years olds who enter higher education.

We are also looking at attainment performance gaps for other groups not measured in this data. For example, mature full-time students on their first degree are less likely to complete their course and less likely to attain highest degree classifications than their younger counterparts.

The progress so far

We are well placed to address these gaps and will be identifying areas of strength and areas for development in our student success processes and interventions across the institution over the next two years. This includes the start of a student success project, data analysis of student groups likely to discontinue their studies and other measures.

Our strategy for engaging with widening participation students across the student lifecycle is well established and was developed in collaboration with colleagues from Educational Engagement (who lead our engagement with young students) and the Lifelong Learning Centre (which leads our mature learner engagement) and consultation with departments across the university.

Work will build on the success of our Plus Programme, which supports students who are offered a place through Access to Leeds and other vulnerable groups.

We are reviewing our curriculum content, aiming to encourage a broader diversity of course content in education. This builds on the work of Leeds University Union’s campaign, Why is my Curriculum White? We know the views of students are crucial and will be developing new ways to engage including the appointment of diversity ambassadors.

We expect to see identified gaps narrowing over the next five years as initiatives begin to take effect and will carefully monitor and evaluate our internal performance to make sure improvements are made. Our work to improve, and in turn eliminate, gaps is underpinned by an evidence-based approach with a strong evaluation culture.

We will develop our approach focusing on the priorities outlined in the Evaluation Strategy section of our Access and Participation Plan.

Diverse workforce

We will work with HR and related departments to explore how we build a diverse academic and professional workforce that can contribute to diverse perspectives and approaches. It will include a review of the ways we recruit staff at postgraduate teaching and postgraduate research level, as well as the opportunity for apprenticeships for professional staff.

Equality Policy Unit student data

Please note that our Equality Policy Unit also publishes student data concerning admissions, registration and degree classification. However, this data is not the same as our Transparency data, as it considers a different mix of students, including data on EU students as well as UK students. Find out more on the Equality Policy Unit website.