Nazir, Mohammed Bilal (2019) Overcoming the Deficit Model: Using Biographical Accounts of Twelve Mirpuri Male Graduates from Bradford to Understand the Attainment Disparity of BME Students in English Higher Education. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis is concerned with the growing ethnic attainment disparity in English higher education (HE). Research on the subject has attempted to explain how this disparity exists and what can be done to reduce it. Generally, a binary view is presented. On the one hand, the deficit model considers the correlation between entry qualifications and degree outcomes, concluding that BME students enter universities with sub-optimal courses not possessing the skills needed to achieve good degrees. On the other hand, the argument of institutional racism posits that the attainment disparity persists after prior qualifications are accounted for, suggesting that institutional racism within universities explains the attainment disparity. This thesis argues that prior qualifications are a strong factor in the ethnic attainment gap, in addition to the university setting. To overcome the deficit model this study uses biographical narratives of twelve Mirpuri male graduates from Bradford to chart their transition from level three vocational courses into HE. The findings suggest that Mirpuri students transition from further to higher education in relation to their individualised learning biographies and by utilising forms of ethnic capital. However, prior to entry, Mirpuri students are negatively impacted by racial warehousing, and a flawed vocational curricula which does not cultivate the skills needed for HE. Within the university context it is argued that vocational degree courses possessing more traditional academic characteristics exclude Mirpuri students by tasking them to succeed in an alien educational context. This thesis stresses that though structural discrimination is a major factor to low attainment, unique Mirpuri habitus helps to navigate the stated binary of institutional structures and racial deficits

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