Exploring the experiences of ethnic minority postgraduate researchers in the UK

Lynam, Siobhan, Lafarge, Caroline ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2148-078X and Milani, Raffaella Margherita ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1683-2410 (2024) Exploring the experiences of ethnic minority postgraduate researchers in the UK. Educational Review. ISSN 0013-1911 (In Press)

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Racism and inequity remain widespread in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), hindering ethnic minority (EM) postgraduate researchers’ (PGRs) prospects. A deeper understanding of the experience of EM PGRs and the obstacles they face is needed. This study endeavoured to explore the plurality of EM PGRs’ experiences and generate PGR-led recommendations. As a largely White research team, we also saw the study as a transformative opportunity for ourselves and other academics across the sector. Fifteen EM PGRs enrolled on UK doctoral programmes took part in semi-structured interviews. A reflexive inductive thematic analysis was conducted. Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality were used as backdrops to contextualise the study and its findings. The analysis generated four themes: disempowerment, systemic deficits, weathering and from surviving to thriving. The findings indicate that EM PGRs faced multiple challenges during their doctoral journey, which were often triggered and amplified by circumstances specific to their ethnicity. The results suggest that HE environments are still dominated by White norms as well as oppressive systems and attitudes that disempower EM PGRs and stifle their sense of belonging and ability to thrive. Female and international EM PGRs were particularly marginalised. Participants made recommendations for change, including proactive outreach support for EM PGRs and creating culturally sensitive environments to foster positive doctoral experiences for all. Cultural change within HEIs needs to go beyond superficial policies, and to achieve this, academics and HE leaders need to lead by example in generating profound and durable change.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Ethnic minority, postgraduate researchers (PGRs), disempowerment, intersectionality, critical race theory (CRT), Higher education
Subjects: Social sciences
Depositing User: Caroline Lafarge
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2024 10:18
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2024 10:18
URI: https://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/11199

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