Last week, the Higher Education Academy published a report on ‘postgraduate diversity’ and found that the numbers of research students from Black Caribbean and Bangladeshi ethnic backgrounds are very low, a black female student shares her experience of postgraduate study, and Macmillan Cancer Support has reported an increase in people living with cancer facing discrimination at work.

A report by the Higher Education Academy looking at progression to research degrees has found that fewer than 10 graduates each from Black Caribbean and Bangladeshi minority groups make the transition to a research degree each academic year. Also, men’s rate of progression to research degree was “essentially twice that of women’s”, the report says. The study looked at full-time UK and EU domiciled first degree graduates completing their studies in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

A black female research student has written in the Guardian about the underrepresenation of black and minority ethnic people in academics. Referring to the low number of BME students studying for a research degree, Janine says: “Few funding opportunities, an overwhelming lack of role models, and alternative opportunities to work in cultural and creative industries or on a freelance basis means that doctoral study is not always the most attractive option.”

According to Macmillan Cancer Support, there has been an increase in the number of people living with cancer experiencing discrimination at work. 37% of people who return to work after cancer treatment claim to have experienced discrimination (the figure was 23% in 2012). Macmillan Cancer Support is calling for employers to fulfil their obligations to people returning to work after cancer treatment under the Equality Act 2010. These could include making reasonable changes to their work environment or hours and ensuring they have a back to work plan.

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