This isn’t how it works Honey

It might sound dramatic, but I have often likened my experience of hearing about how black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students do worse than their white peers at university to the five stages of grief.

There was the initial shock and denial that there could be any discrepancy between my white student peers and myself in achieving a first or upper 2:1 class degree. Surely this gap would vanish if entry requirements, subjects, and socio-economic backgrounds were all accounted for?

When I saw that a 13% gap persisted even after other factors were controlled for, I felt frustration and anger. I could not imagine how universities had allowed this to happen. As BAME students, we expect that if we put in the hard work, we should get good grades.

There comes a point in every education where hard work isn’t the thing any more. There really is a stage at which aptitude, innate intelligence, skill, perhaps, is what is being tested.

Different systems might have this at different stages, from the whining schoolboy having to do Greek to the post-doc student having to actually some up with some new knowledge. But we really are trying – the point of the system being – to sort between those who simply work hard at it and those who are good at it.

This is, of course, nothing to do with BAME. Uncovering talent is uncovering talent irrespective of culture, nationality and melanin content. But to fail to grasp that it ain’t about studiousness at some point in the process is to have failed to grasp the point of the system itself.

37 comments on “This isn’t how it works Honey

  1. Also, define “hard work”. Should someone who spends three hours trying to understand a maths problem be graded the same, lowed or higher than someone who understands it almost immediately? The rational approach is to grade them on the result.

    Once you have something as nebulous as “hard work” determining grades then it becomes child’s play for the Progressives to twist it into whatever meaning they want to artificially boost the grades of minorities, and eventually punish whites by downgrading them for their ‘privilege’. This is not some fantasy – the loonier fringe of academia is talking about this now, and the loony fringe will be the mainstream in five years.

  2. The problem may be that the admissions process is skewed in the interest of diversity while the degree awarding process is not.

    That said, now that Cambridge seems to have devoted itself to Slavery Studies and Self-Flagellation, things might be set on their head.

  3. Of course, if you drill deeper into the figures, you find that Asians fare better and Afro-Caribbeans worse; but a handy moniker like BAME lets you gloss over those pesky details and just blame whitey instead.

  4. What Andrew M said – I’d be prepared to bet Asian students outperform all others, so if the BAME students are 13% below white ones, the non white non Asian cohort must be way below 13% down on old racist whitey.

    But of course ‘Afro-Caribbean students get far worse results than Asian ones, with whites in the middle’ is hardly grist to the white haters mill…………..

  5. Purging the scum of the left from both the teacher and student bodies would be the last chance of the colleges/Uni’s.

    It won’t happen so time to save a fortune by going to the net and vocational training.

    Empty the Unis and let them close. Better that formerly great old Unis close than be converted to shitholes steeped in socialism.

  6. If only there was some sort of metric for general intelligence that might help us explain average differences in outcomes between groups.

    But in the absence of such a thing, the only plausible explanation is witchcraft racism. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  7. TMB is right. The complainer is perhaps someone who should never have been admitted to her degree course in the first place, but due to PC action, was.

    I expect some sort of grade marking similar to the golf handicapping system to emerge:

    Students to have marks deducted according to how many privilege boxes they tick – eg race (white getting the highest score), private school, parents’ occupations etc

    Or marks added for how many disadvantage boxes they tick.

    This already happens for admissions, but not yet for exams and degree results.

  8. BTW

    As BAME students, we expect that if we put in the hard work, we should get good grades

    This is, of course, what cargo cults believe.

  9. “As BAME students, we expect that if we put in the hard work, we should get good grades”

    Hard work of course being defined by the person doing it………….I worked hard now give me my First, you racist!

  10. I worry about Adesewa falling into the trap of thinking its about a group. Yes, campaining on this is a niche that your “white peers at university” won’t be able to compete with you on and if it’s your calling then well who’s to stop you? But while you’re enjoying the trappings and demanding university action the people you’re comparing yourself against are just getting on with it.

  11. The University of Huddersfield? Seriously this idiot is thinking about a PhD? Getting a PhD and then a serious job in academia is difficult even at top universities – starting from the bottom is really tough. Nothing to do with BAME everything to do with her ability.

  12. Ken,

    “I was kindly and honestly cautioned about the realities I would face [As a black woman] ”
    It’s possible that the advisor was more kind than honest.

  13. What is an “upper 2:1”? Is this a new grading system to compensate for the fact that firsts are now handed out like sweeties so it’s to distinguish those who would have got an unadorned 2:1 in old money?

    Everyone, regardless of skin colour, or even aptitude, is well-advised that there is no point planning on an academic career. Your chances are 10% at best and there is no guarantee even with working hard, working well with a perfect attitude and the biggest brains on the planet. The notion that the most woke set of employers on the planet systematically discriminate against black people is utterly insane.

  14. I don’t get the young woman’s gripe. While I don’t really understand the British system of firsts, seconds or whatever, didn’t the writer say she earned firsts during her first two years and was now in her final year? It sounds like she is doing ok with her hard work. Her gripe appears to be that her counselors think it unlikely she could have an academic career. Possibly or maybe not – hard work might help. However, with a declining young population and some universities actually closing, it is quite likely that academia may not be the best career option.

    So, we have a young woman studying a difficult subject at a lower tier school who is working hard and getting good grades, and who thinks it’s unfair that it might be harder to become a professor herself one day. Sounds like she’ll probably do quite ok provided she keeps working hard and doesn’t piss and moan her whole life.

  15. Off topic, but Remainers and the BBC are utterly shameless:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-48142181

    Labour’s loss of seats to the Lib Dems in places such as Sunderland and Bolsover have led to calls from pro-Remain MPs for it to decisively throw its weight behind another referendum.

    Are these people for real? Can people really write that with a straight face? You’ve lost seats because people are fucked off over you betraying Brexit, so the solution is…betray Brexit again!

  16. From the article: (black people) have to work twice as hard to get half of what they (white people) have.”

    Race-baiting bollocks from the Guardian, pure and simple.

  17. You’ve got a really big problem if your ambition when leaving university is to become an academic. I’m guessing she’s doing a circlejerk subject like women’s studies or anthropology where most of the jobs are teaching.

  18. In biochemistry, her chances of getting on any PhD programme from Huddersfield are almost zero. She will need a first, ideally to top her class, and unless there are some other compelling reasons why she is better than the rest of the field, will still find herself behind Oxbridge and Russell group 2:1s in the queue. Alternatively, she can take a master’s from a serious school.

    As unfair as it is, your choice of institution for first degree is extremely important.

  19. Yeah, but they are currently offering only 3 funded PhD projects, only 1 of which is remotely biochemistry-related.

    A PhD is unlike any other degree – it’s a specific piece of project work. And in the UK is still very much so – you can’t get a “programmed” PhD like in America, though it’s common now to have some brief industry internship stint or other extracurricular activity shoehorned in. So you need to come up with some project, usually in conjunction with a lab that will take you. Theoretically you can dream up a project on your own and then go find a lab, but that’s not usual.

    Oh yes – you need a lab. The university is really just the administrative overhead as far as the prospective PhD student is concerned. It’s the people you will be working with and the facilities, and what kind of training you can get there that really count. I guess the closest “real world” analogous situation is pupillage for trainee barristers. In fact, this part of “getting on a PhD” is very much like that. Find someone you get along with who is prepared to teach you how to do their job.

    Once you have a project, and a lab, you need a huge pile of cash. For most people, that means a research scholarship, and they don’t grow on trees. MRC and BBSRC are the big STEM PhD funders and between them put about 2,000 people through a PhD every year. That’s a minuscule proportion of the people who want to “do” a PhD.

    When I got my grant everything was done at arm’s length with the funding body, there was no interview, just degree result (including where from, of course), and lab recommendation. The body had to approve all 3 things – me, the lab for the project, and the project itself. All at arms length.

    Now, with an “upper 2:1” from Huddersfield, you will definitely meet the academic requirements most places. But you need to persuade a lab you are better than someone with a better degree from a better school. And persuade the research council of that. It’s frankly not very likely to start with, and going to a school that is not a big hitter at what you want to do is just making life hard for yourself.

    But it’s possible. If she wants to do it she needs to be thinking already what she wants to do and go around sweet talking people who might take her on to do it. Preferably labs with a good track record of churning out successful research council PhDs (the councils do look at failure rate, and what their alumni are doing years down the line).

    If she wants it she has to go and get it, not just apply to a few random programmes and be told she makes the cut but will have to find someone to mentor her and someone to pay for it.

  20. If she wants to do it she needs to be thinking already what she wants to do and go around sweet talking people who might take her on to do it.

    I’m guessing that bitching in The Grauniad aren’t going to do here chances any good.

  21. In today’s A level regime “hard work” will get you good results, and possibly a sense of entitlement.
    In a degree course, you need more than hard work. For a Ph.D. you need much, much, more.

  22. I’m guessing that bitching in The Grauniad aren’t going to do here chances any good.

    I’m not sure that’s the case. It may be the opposite, given 95% of the people she will be applying to are very likely to be Guardian readers, and will share her paranoia about race.

  23. Grade inflation
    A BBC at A level is not hard work. Assuming that she got at least a B at Chemistry, this puts her in the top 60% of all people taking chemistry in 2015. Back in 1993 the bottom of the 2015 Bs would have been a D. Which is about right for Huddersfield Poly.

    Participation has increased in A levels, so it’s possible that the B in 2015 might have been an E in 1993, which was a period that had already seen substantial grade inflation relative to the 1980s. .

    The fact that she is on course to get a first from her current university may not mean much either – my (limited) experience of those with firsts from former polys has been fairly negative. (Albeit in social sciences rather than a hard science.)

    http://www.bstubbs.co.uk/a-lev.htm

  24. This young woman has selected activities more suitable a stepping stones on a political career than an academic one. Students’ Union Education Officer: is that paid full-time job or an unpaid part-time one that will occupy time that should be spent studying? Writing for The Grauniad isn’t part of the Biochemistry curriculum.
    As BiG shows, she has chosen the wrong university if she wants an academic career – I immediately recall “If Oi were going to Dublin, Oi wouldn’t start from here”.
    Her thesis is that the Universities *must* change so that BAME students get the same percentage of Firsts and Upper Seconds, presumably by allocating quotas and she railroads discussion about how hard BAME students by saying “if we work hard, we should …” Quotas would devalue the degrees ararded to those who deserved them and deprive some Chinese students of well-earned degrees. Perhaps Black students should cut down on drugs, sex and politics and spend more time studying?
    I might add that the BAME students that I can recall didn’t have any noticeable problems, but then I went to a decent university. Of the ethnic minority boys I knew at school most were Jewish but there were a few Asian and African: apart fron one African (son of a tribal chief) who was not very bright – he was older when he took ‘O’ levels than I was when I took ‘A’ levels so he didn’t go to university – they seem to have done OK.

  25. As BAME students, we expect that if we put in the hard work, we should get good grades.

    Success/achievement in an endeavor is dependent on four factors: Intelligence, skill set, judgment and work ethic. To a small extent being over-endowed in one area can make up for deficiencies in another, but often less so than most people think. Clearly our BAME is under the impression that the virtue of a good work ethic can overcome deficiencies in intelligence, or skill set, or judgment. Sadly, that the way things work in the real world.

    The expectation here is that hard work should, in an of itself, be rewarded… irrespective of outcomes. This is simply not true. More than once I’ve had a person in an interview tell me they are a hard worker. I then have to tell them I’m not interested in hiring a hard worker, I’m interested in hiring a productive worker. I then tell them that there is a difference and the difference is important. Unfortunately, most didn’t get my point.

  26. Well, it’s so she can grievance the rest of her life at the PhD she doesn’t have because she is black, whereas it will be down to a combination of her choice of school, the roughly 5% intake/applicant ratio, plus her lack of pro-activeness in compensating for that poor choice of school by whoring around every lab and funding body in the western world.

    Anything is doable, even getting a PhD place after an upper 2:1 at the First University College of Kirklees, if you put your mind do it. That’s part of the point of a PhD.

  27. ‘When I saw that a 13% gap persisted even after other factors were controlled for, I felt frustration and anger.’

    Anger? WTF? What a strange reaction. It says more about her character than the school.

  28. “Liberia confers nationality solely on the basis of race. Under the current Liberian constitution, only persons of black African origins may obtain citizenship”

    Don’t hear much squawking from the left about this. Can you imagine the clever placards and hands glued to railings outside an embassy of a country that pulled that stunt on a white only basis?

  29. Apart from the fact that 90% of academics are SJWs who would probably inflate grades for BAME students, anonymised exams and coursework is standard practice across Universities now.

  30. Ethnic minority discrimination? How come my chinese ex-wife has two degrees, and I scraped a single ‘Pass’?

  31. ‘I could not imagine how universities had allowed this to happen.’

    Wut? Universities allowed people to score lower?
    Allowed? BAME’s scores should be “adjusted?”

    ‘With the limited job prospects and numerous micro-aggressions (as documented by the small number of professors who are black women), I was gently advised to consider whether it was worth taking the risk.’

    Ooooooo! Micro aggressions!!!

    Risk? What risk?

    Folks, what we have here is personality disorder. Her problems are SOMEBODY ELSE’S FAULT. She needs psychological assistance.

    ‘We’ve found that lots of BAME students lack a sense of belonging.’

    Then WhyTF are you going to University of Huddersfield?

    ‘This tends to make them less engaged with the university, specifically in terms of reading lists, module content and assessments.’

    Go to a Brit university, you get Shakespeare. If you don’t want Shakespeare, go somewhere else, forchristsake.

    ‘A diversified curriculum with more books and journal articles by BAME authors can help’

    Give us your suggestions, dumbass. What books do you wish to replace Dickens with?

    ‘and in any case developing more inclusive curriculums is good for everyone.’

    No it’s not.

    ‘Representation matters: if a person is able to identify with something or someone they will be more likely to emulate and imitate.’

    Western civilization/culture is for everyone. You wish to replace it with some ignorant Afrocentric mumbo jumbo.

    ‘Seeing BAME staff in senior positions, such as lecturers, is vital’

    Racist beyond comprehension.

    ‘so long as those roles aren’t tokenistic.’

    How are you going to hide the obvious?

    ‘Universities need to urgently listen to the experiences of their BAME students by viewing them as collaborative partners.’

    Ahh, you wish to change the university, instead of the university changing you. You are going NOWHERE. You are walking up a one way street.

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