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Addressing the black attainment gap on the Open University's Access Programme


This project was initiated in response to the notable attainment gap between black students inparticular and white students, studying on the OU's Access programme.  This is reflective of the University and sector attainment gap issues.  The project uses the University's Access Programme to identify stages of the student lifecycle which may impact on attainment.  Following a workshop event, four themes were identified from which specific actions could be delivered, with a view to assessing impact on attainment over one academic year.


To reduce the black attainment gap on Access, through the adoption of a student lifecycle approach.


  • To understand black student experiences on Access modules
  • To explore programme-level practice in relation to four main themes:
    • assessment
    • staff development
    • curriculum
    • student ambassadors/mentors
  • To implement recommendations that emerge from the above and evaluate for impact
  • To share good practice across the institution and externally


The methodology adopted varies across the different themes.  Analysis of institutional quantitative and qualitative data will be used alongside more indepth exploration of student experience, through one to one interviews with students who are currently or have recently studied an Access module. 

Project team

Project Manager: Darren Gray, Information, Evaluation and Research Manager (Widening Access and Success),

Wendy Fowle, Senior Manager, Research and Evaluation (Widening Access and Success),

Dr John Butcher, Associate Director, Curriculum and Access,

Liz Burton-Pye, Head of Curriculum Innovation,