Home > Published Issues > 2024 > Volume 10, Number 3, 2024 >
IJLT 2024 Vol.10(3): 354-363
doi: 10.18178/ijlt.10.3.354-363

Unmasking the Disparities: A Case Study of Inequality and Disadvantage Experienced by Ethnic Minority Students Made Visible during the COVID-19 Pandemic

D. Kbaier 1,*, A. Kane 2, and S. Kouadri Mostefaoui1
1. School of Computing and Communications, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
2. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
Email: dhouha.kbaier@open.ac.uk (D.K.)
*Corresponding author

Manuscript received October 6, 2023; revised November 22, 2023; accepted December 21, 2023; published May 24, 2024.

Abstract—This paper explores lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic about pre-existing inequalities for the progression and retention of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME*) students while proposing strategies to mitigate disadvantage. The research assesses study performance and progression patterns using quantitative data analytics and conducts qualitative focus groups to understand students’ experiences during COVID-19. Combining quantitative data analysis and qualitative insights provides a richer interpretation of the experiences and performance of these students during the pandemic. COVID-19 made visible and exacerbated pre-existing structural and institutional inequalities and disadvantages experienced by BAME students engaged in distance learning. The findings, although specific to The Open University and Level 1 Computing modules, can be generalized with further research to explore their applicability to other educational settings and disciplines. Our findings can inform the development of targeted interventions and support strategies to address disparities and mitigate their impact, and the methodology and analysis developed can easily be extended to include other modules in future studies. These findings contribute to promoting equality and creating an inclusive learning environment in higher education, offering a unique contribution to the existing literature by specifically examining the impact of COVID-19 in exposing inequalities experienced by ethnic minority students. Recommendations arising from the study include enhancing support structures, revisiting evidence requirements to reduce barriers to support, fostering a sense of community and belonging, increasing diversity among staff members, conducting thorough data analysis for evidence-based decision-making, developing individualized support plans for students, revisiting tuition strategies to create an inclusive and supportive learning environment, providing proactive support and monitoring, enhancing the user-friendliness of resources, improving unconscious bias training, and preserving a focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion in the face of financial challenges.

Keywords—awarding gap, BAME, COVID-19, ethnic minority students, higher education, mixed methods, study experiences

Cite: D. Kbaier, A. Kane, and S. Kouadri Mostefaoui, "Unmasking the Disparities: A Case Study of Inequality and Disadvantage Experienced by Ethnic Minority Students Made Visible during the COVID-19 Pandemic," International Journal of Learning and Teaching, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 354-363, 2024.

Copyright © 2024 by the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided that the article is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.