How our diverse partners translate to progress on Systematic Review 

One of the things I like about working for Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) is the diverse range of Higher Education (HE) partners we collaborate with across the region.  

Every partner has a voice at the table: we have a range of HE providers – universities; HE in Further Education providers; and specialist institutions – as well as a range of different perspectives from representatives who work in various roles, such as outreach, admissions, student support, and teaching to address inequity in HE. 

This diversity is important when undertaking research as it reduces potential bias. We have seen this first hand in the Systematic Review that is being conducted by our Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnic Students Network as one of its outputs.  

A Systematic Review synthesises existing research in a systematic way. There is no need to have a research background to contribute to one, which recognises that different perspectives are needed for the best possible output. 

Deciding on the Network’s output was the easy part: to ascertain what factors act as barriers and facilitators for Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnicity students to access HE. I previously wrote about its initial stages but, since then, there has been lots to agree on. I discuss some of these below. 

Consideration of ethics 

A Systematic Review makes use of existing research, which means they don’t require ethical approval. As our work may help to inform future practice and potential policy, it does nonetheless have ethical implications for the students. Therefore, ethics is something to be aware of and having a range of voices helped us all to agree on this. 

Selecting papers 

Selecting papers is an essential part of the systematic review process. This was done after psychological, sociological, and educational databases had been searched with our agreed search terms.  

Our search identified 1,177 papers, of which 589 were removed for being duplicates. Two reviewers independently read the title and abstract of 585 papers and applied our predefined co-created inclusion and exclusion criteria. Of the 585 papers, the reviewers agreed to include 126 papers.  

At this stage, we erred on side of caution and included papers that were ambiguously related to our inclusion/exclusion criteria and the research question. The two reviewers then independently read the 126 papers in full and through discussion agreed to include 34 papers.  

At each stage, a third reviewer was brought in to address any discrepancies. We have since manually searched the reference lists of included papers to ensure we have carried out a comprehensive search of all the literature.  

Characteristics to extract 

The characteristics to extract just refers to what information we want to collate from the papers that fit the inclusion criteria we agreed, including the Aim and Methodology.   

Next steps / future plans 

The working group will meet again to discuss progress and next steps. and provide an update at the next GHWY Black Asian and Minoritised Ethnic Students Network meeting. And, who knows, you may see another blog post on the Systematic Review!  

In the long term, we hope to present our work/output at conferences and publish our research. 


Tahera Mayat, GHWY Collaborative Outreach Officer