The Struggle is Real: Missing Opportunities in Higher Education

“We are told we lack aspirations. No, we don’t. We lack opportunities.”

                                                                                   –Sumeya Loonat, 2021

The Open & Inclusive Special Interest Group from OpenTEL featured presentations from two external speakers in an online seminar on Wednesday, March 24th, 2021. The speakers covered interrelated topics about language, race, mental health, and financial hardship in higher education. Sumeya Loonat, a senior international student lecturer in the Business and Law faculty at De Montfort University, was the first to deliver her presentation on Language and Learning: Breaking Barriers to Success’. Sumeya’s experience as an English teacher for Academic Purposes who provides academic support for international students has contributed to her research on the intersectionality between language and race. Under the Equality Act 2010, race can mean colour, nationality or ethnic or national origins. Sumeya’s PhD focuses explicitly on students of colour who use English as an additional language within a teaching and learning context.

She has identified key barriers bilingual students of colour face in higher education, including:

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Open & Inclusive SIG: 24th March

Open & Inclusive Special Interest Group
Wednesday 24th March 2021
10:00 – 12:00
ONLINE: MS Teams

Join us online for the next Open and Inclusive Special Interest Group, with presentations from Sumeya Loonat and Dan Holloway. Please contact openTEL for joining instructions or for more information about this event.

Presentation 1:
Language and Learning: Breaking Barriers to Success
Sumeya Loonat, De Montfort University

Abstract: This session explores the intersectionality of race and language within a teaching and learning context. There are significant barriers faced by students of colour in higher education and the impact of Covid-19 has contributed to further disparities. Students of colour make up approximately 54% of the student body at DMU; while this current framing of students is homogenous under the contested term ‘BAME’ (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) there are similar connections between domestic students of colour and international students of colour who use English as an additional language. The mainstream framing of these students is usually viewed through a deficit model which is harmful as it perpetuates negative stereotypes. This session considers alternative approaches which enhance the student sense of belonging.  Continue reading

Summary of Student Voice Event

Open & Inclusive SIG- Student Voice Event Summary Report
By Emily Coughlan

As part of the Open and Inclusive Special Interest Group, the team coordinated and delivered the first online student voice event on the 20th January2021. The event was intended to give students the opportunity to speak freely and openly about different topics, as put forward by both staff and students, and stimulate discussion around current and emerging issues regarding accessibility at the OU.

The event was attended by over 40 participants which included staff and students from different disciplines and areas within the OU. The event included three interactive workshops where students and staff were able to share their own experiences, discussing challenges they face and areas of concern as well as positive experiences.

The three workshops focussed on the following areas of interest: Continue reading

Open & Inclusive SIG: Student Voice Event

Student Voice Event
Wednesday 20th January 2021 (14:00 – 16:00)
ONLINE: MS Teams (please email openTEL to be sent an invitation)

Join us online, as part of the Open & Inclusive Special Interest Group, for our annual student voice event. Every year we host a get-together where OU staff and students can share ideas, concerns, and explore ways to make the OU a more inclusive place for students with disabilities or study needs.

This event will involve a series of short facilitated discussions with a small mixed group of staff and students. We’ll contact you in advance for suggestions of themes you’d like to talk about, so we can create groups of students and staff with similar interests.

This event will be very casual; you should get the chance to meet interesting people, have good discussions and find out more about how the OU works.

To find out more about this event you can contact openTEL, Kate Lister, Francisco Iniesto, or Emily Coughlan

Presentation: Embedding Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Curriculum

open & Inclusive Special Interest Group
Monday 9th November, 14:00 – 16:00
ONLINE: Adobe Connect
Adobe Connect Link for OU Staff
Link for external participants

openTEL and SeGA are pleased to announce that the next Open & Inclusive Special Interest Group will include presentations from Helena Gillespie and Emma Sutton from UEA. Join us online!

Embedding Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Curriculum

Abstract:

The multi-disciplinary team at UEA have been working on embedding mental health in the curriculum over the last 12 months, as part of a collaborative project with Advance HE. Despite (and perhaps even because of) the upheaval in Higher Education caused by Covid19, the project has made good progress in some areas. In this presentation, we will report on progress so far, encompassing, university systems, assessment and assessment literacy, student skills and identity and the role of communications in promotion good mental health. We’ll discuss how we have collaborated across teams at UEA and how we intend to approach the evaluation of the project’s long term outcomes.

Bio:

Helena Gillespie is Professor of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and Academic Director of Inclusive Education at UEA in Norwich. With a background in school teaching she has an interest in equality and diversity and is academic lead for the university’s Access and Participation Plan. Helena is about to begin work on a 3 year European University project, with a focus on how universities can be agents for social transformation.

Emma Sutton is Professor of Health Professions Education and Academic Director of Taught Programmes at UEA. She began her career as a registered mental health nurse working in specialist areas of crisis intervention and working with those who engage in self injury. Despite moving into an academic role more than twenty years ago, she remains a registrant and strong advocate for individuals living with mental ill-health and those that are close to them. Emma has led the ‘Embedding Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Curriculum’ project as part of an institution wide strategy and is about to launch a whole-scale curriculum review across the UEA.