GTRSB into Higher Education Pledge

Background to the 'GTRSB into HE' pledge

Barriers to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils achievement in compulsory education, in turn reduce their access to HE as the likelihood of gaining the requisite grades at GCSE and A- Level needed to access HE are diminished.

There are very few Gypsy, Traveller and Roma (GTR) university students and graduates in the UK, with an estimated average of 200 members of the communities in higher education at any one time (Greenfields, 2019; Mulcahy et. al. 2017). Ensuring support and access to Higher Education for members of these ethnic minority populations, and the wider group of students included under the  ‘GTR’ rubric by the OfS  (which includes students from New Traveller, Showman and Boater communities) is therefore a matter of social justice, impacting as it does, greater access to employment, increased social mobility, enhanced opportunity and visibility, and increased equality for members of the GTR populations.

You can access a summary of research into this issue, find out more.

Information about the pledge

The GTRSB into Higher Education Pledge consists of a firm commitment by a University, College or educational Institution to undertake certain steps to support GTRSB students into and within higher education. For the background to the development of the Pledge, and why it is required, see here.

The Pledge is designed to support best practice in ensuring monitoring of data; inclusive pedagogy and representation in the academy, and the development of widening participation practice to support GTRSB students and potential students.

The Pledge has been developed after consultation with GTRSB community members (graduates, students and academic staff who are members of the communities); civil society organisations, university representatives, and education policy specialists. It is underpinned by robust research findings, and consideration of effective widening participation interventions in supporting members of the communities into and within HE.

The Pledge sets out to deliver effective practice and also create an open and welcoming environment where members of the communities can be confident that their culture and learning needs are understood by the institution which they attend, or which they are interested in attending.

There are a few minimum commitments your institution must agree to, prior to taking the Pledge...

  • Your institution must commit to working towards creating the most appropriate and welcoming environment and conditions in which GTRSB students can stay resilient and thrive academically and personally.
  • To do this, the institution will establish a named contact point for GTRSB students and potential students.
  • The institution will also clearly identify and publicise the support for GTRSB students already in place (or under development), which engage the key areas of the Pledge:
    • Data monitoring of GTRSB student and staff numbers;
    • Building a supportive and welcoming culture for GTRSB students;
    • Outreach & engagement to local GTRSB communities and
    • Inclusion, Celebration and Commemoration of GTRSB cultures and communities.

To facilitate this, the institution will develop processes to identify GTRSB students and monitor their progress, as well as supporting the professional and personal development of staff members who self-identify as members of the communities.

The institution will ensure that staff and students across departments and faculties are aware of the support available to GTRSB students in the university or college.

Finally the institution will commit to ensuring staff development opportunities which raises awareness of the barriers GTRSB students may face in entering HE and more broadly in society.

To find out more about the different requirements and elements of the Pledge, click the buttons below:

During the process of developing ‘The Pledge’ a Jiscmail network was set up which enables universities, GTRSB civil society agencies, UniConnect networks,  WP staff, policy specialists, GTRSB graduates and academics working with the communities in the field of access to HE to remain in contact with each other. The purpose of the Jiscmail list is to exchange news, training and research opportunities, good practice and to support the development of local or regional sub-groupings to support students into and within HE.

A short report in relation to network numbers/main areas of interest (e.g. developing WP practice; collaborative research; training student mentors) and regional location of membership will be produced/updated annually. The initial network report (December 2019-May 2020) can be accessed here.

If you would like to become a member of the Network please complete the short questionnaire. which asks about your areas of knowledge, interest and experience in working with the communities in relation to access to HE. In the alternative, please contact Sherrie Smith at Sherrie.Smith@bucks.ac.uk to be enrolled on the list.

There is no charge involved in ‘Taking the Pledge'. There is a requirement that your VC, Pro VC, Principal or someone of similar seniority provides a short public statement of commitment to the principles and actions of the Pledge.

If your institution is in the 'first wave' of Pathfinder signatories you will be invited to participate in the formal online Pledge signing launch event and associated workshop which will take place on the 20th January 2021.

  • Your institution will be named on this website under the list of Institutions who have signed up to the Pledge. Your Institutional statement of commitment will be linked to your Crest, Badge or Coat of Arms displayed on this site.
  • You will be entitled to utilise the GTRSB into HE logo in publicity materials e.g. in relation to Widening Participation and Access activities, or to use the logo on your institutional marketing materials.
  • You will be invited to join the Jiscmail Network (if you do not already have a representative of the institution who is a member). Membership of the list will enable you to engage in discussion and exchange of concepts with other members.
  • Members of the GTRSB into Higher Education advisory board will work with our partner institutions to publicly promote their practice, and celebrate their achievements in helping Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, Showmen and Boater students to access and remain in higher education.
  • We will support HE staff through signposting training, resources and best practice conferences.
  • A group of best practice champions and community member graduates/students will monitor your progress and provide supportive advice/facilitate access to resources (e.g Posters and Campaigns/information etc designed to support a ‘welcoming environment’).
  • We will ask you to engage in ‘light touch’ feedback/monitoring a year after you have ‘taken the Pledge’ (and annually thereafter). This involves completing a short online survey.
  • You may also feel you would benefit from a supportive telephone conversation or email exchange with a member of the Steering Group in relation to any suggestions or challenges you have faced in the preceding year.
  • Our monitoring is not intrusive, but will (for example) enable you to let us know about changes in self-identified GTRSB student numbers; what has gone well, where support and advice might be helpful, and any good practice you wish to share with us. This light touch monitoring and review will take place annually.
Download the 'GTRSB into HE' Pledge

Above, you can access a downloadable PDF document which covers all the information you will need to know about the 'GTRSB into HE' pledge. We hope you can take the pledge with us so that together we can improve access and opportunities into Higher Education for the GTRSB communities. #GTRSBintoHigherEd

Contact us

If you have any questions about the pledge or simply want to find more information, please contact GTRSB Research Assistant, Sherrie Smith at Sherrie.Smith@bucks.ac.uk.

A 'Thank you'...

The GTRSBintoHigherEd team would like to thank every member of the steering group past and present for their time, dedication and support in making this Pledge become a reality.

We are very grateful for input from the Kings College London (KCL), Wider Participation team; Buckinghamshire New University; The Traveller Movement; Friends, Families and Travellers and ACERT (The Advisory Council for Education of Romany and Other Travellers) and to Dr. Graeme Atherton of the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON). We are also extremely grateful to advice received from Mhemooda Malek of the Office for Students; and support from Dr Rosa Cisneros; of Coventry University C-DaRE; and Dr Natalie Forster and Martin Gallagher of Northumbria University.

None of this work would have been possible without the many community members, widening participation team and academics who have contributed to the research and consultation, and the greatly valued input received from members of the Jiscmail GTRSBintoHE Network.