The University of Strathclyde is the first Scottish University to sign a pledge that commits to supporting access to Higher Education for the Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showmen and Boater (GRTSB) communities.
The university is one in five institutions to have signed, alongside Bucks New University, Winchester, Hull and Sunderland.
Department of Education data reveals that from 2009-10 to 2017-18 for all other White groups, the trend in Higher Education participation is upwards.
This is in contrast to Travellers of Irish Heritage where trends show it has declined, and Gypsy Roma groups where numbers have remained the same.
It has been discovered that overall only 3-4% of these communities aged 18-30 years old access higher education. This in comparison with 43% of 18-30 year olds in the general population.
In order to help change this, the University of Strathclyde have vowed to take the following actions to provide support in the academic year 2020/2021:
• A named contact for GTRSB students has been established who will lead activity to support applicants, students and staff.
• Evaluate current data and seek ways to improve data collection and monitoring and promote methods for students and staff to self-identify.
• Develop and promote guidance for staff regarding the experiences of GTRSB communities in education.
• Include GTRSB students in existing support offerings for access students with, for example, the provision of a staff mentor as part of the Strathclyde Cares scheme and priority for funding and extra-curricular opportunities.
• Work with current and potential students to identify what support can be put in place to enhance the experiences of GTRSB students in higher education.
• Seek opportunities to promote and celebrate GTRSB cultures within the University in order to raise awareness amongst students and staff.
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said: “At Strathclyde, we strive to break down barriers to education and build support for students from the widest range of backgrounds.
“I’m delighted to sign the GTRSB pledge on behalf of the University of Strathclyde.
“We want to publicly commit to creating an open and welcoming environment in which members of the Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showmen and Boater communities can be confident that their culture and learning needs are both understood and indeed celebrated.
“We recognise that people from GTRSB communities are under-represented and we will aim to better understand and help surmount these barriers to access and make sure that we listen carefully to the needs and views and those within the communities.”