Essex signs pledge to encourage an even more diverse community of students

  • Date

    Tue 11 May 21

GTRSB logo

The University of Essex has signed a pledge to encourage more young people from Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showman and Boater (GTRSB) communities to come to Essex

As one of the most culturally diverse universities in the UK, with staff and students from over 140 countries, Essex is proud to welcome people from a wide range of backgrounds, who collectively enrich the life of our University.

Our Essex Law Clinic provided legal advice and support to residents facing eviction from Dale Farm and our University experts have written a report for the United Nation’s on the rights of nomadic people to culturally-appropriate housing.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster explained: “In common with universities across the UK, the number of staff and students from GTRSB communities coming to Essex has been low. We want to change this – and the signing of this pledge is an important first step.”

The Office for Students has highlighted that pupils from Gypsy, Traveller and Roma backgrounds (which includes New Traveller, Showmen and Boater communities) do least well at school compared with all other ethnic groups – and in turn this reduces their chances of going on to Higher Education.

 This is reflected in a recent report, which confirmed that over the last 10 years the number of students going into Higher Education has increased for every ethnic group except those from GTRSB communities, where numbers are declining.

 Essex has signed the GTRSB into Higher Education Pledge and has committed to the following actions: 

  •  Raising awareness of the history and culture of the different groups to help counteract stereotypes and break down barriers.
  •  Providing advice to teachers on how to support students from the GTRSB communities into Higher Education.
  •  Appointing a Student Ambassador to act as a role model and mentor. 
  •  Having a member of staff specifically responsible for supporting students from the GTRSB communities.
  • Collaborating with the ‘Make Happen’ team, whose role is to inspire young people to consider Higher Education or a Degree Apprenticeship.

Sean Smith, a first year literature and creative writing student, is from a Traveller background and he believes fostering more understanding and breaking down barriers is key to encouraging other youngsters like himself to go to University.

 “People need to understand our history and culture a bit more. I have got a lot to learn myself, but I just wish people were more educated. If we could sort the problem of how people judge us, everything else will sort itself out,“ he said.

 You can find out more about our commitments and read Sean’s story online.