Widening participation in the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

Wed, 08 Jul 2020 10:09:00 BST

The sixth annual Making a Difference Awards took place in May which highlighted the extensive range of social responsibility activities that our staff, students and external partners are involved in. A record number of 180 individuals and teams submitted entries, with judges recognising 17 winners, 28 highly commended and two special recognition awards.

As always, the awards were an inspiring and humbling event showcasing the incredible work that our University community does to make a difference. In this year’s Widening Participation category, five of our shortlisted projects came from the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, showing the faculty’s commitment to addressing the inclusion of students from under-represented backgrounds in the life sciences.

Widening participation in the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

The widening participation projects serve a variety of communities in many different ways:

The Black Pharmacists Collective

The Black Pharmacists Collective (BPC) is a group of black Pharmacy undergraduate students, who are working collaboratively to close the enrolment and attainment gaps between white and black students in Pharmacy. The BPC aims to understand the underlying issues that affect the inclusion of black students in pharmacy, higher education and the workplace as a whole. Through its events and workshops, the BPC endeavours to improve access to the study of pharmacy, widen career prospects for black students and increase representation across the pharmaceutical sector.

Since 2019, the BPC has registered 49% of black students within the pharmacy department, attended a national Westminster Briefing conference on improving BAME student outcomes and published an article in the Pharmaceutical Journal.

On winning a Making a Difference Award, the BPC said: “It was amazing to be nominated and humbling to win. The existence of such an award speaks volumes to the active role being played in advocating for true change in our university. This is something we as BPC are very passionate about and hope to be at the forefront of more change in the near future.”

Find out more about the project here and watch our short video.

Service Learning in Pharmacy

The Service Learning in Pharmacy project, which is now a part of the pharmacy core curriculum, involved pharmacy undergraduates delivering public engagement workshops to local high school pupils on a number of public health topics. Workshops cover a variety of public health topics relevant to 14-16-year olds such as Antibiotic Resistance, Alcohol, Diabetes, Mental Health & Sexual Health Awareness. The workshops are interactive, with students walking around the classroom and engaging some high school pupils on a one-to-one basis.

Project lead David Allison has been passionate about widening participation in higher education since he was an undergraduate himself. He was the first member of his family to attend university and so personally understands the experiences and barriers that some young people face when accessing higher education. Working at the university for over 30 years, he has been involved in a myriad of activities and initiatives that work with young learners from educationally and socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds with the aim of encouraging and inspiring them into higher education.

David decided to target the 14-16 age group as pupils haven’t typically decided on their future career paths, so the workshops can plant a seed of interest about higher education as well as benefiting the pupils with the information around public health. Since 2017 approximately 3,000 pupils across 14 Manchester schools have received these workshops, delivered by 416 undergraduate students.

On winning a Making a Difference Award, David said, “We have received increased publicity and interest about the project which is great, and which includes recognition by our financial sponsors Health Education England. We have also publicised the award on a recently submitted manuscript, hoping to draw attention to the project from not only other Schools of Pharmacy, but healthcare subjects too.”

Find out more about the project here and watch our short video.

Year 10 Work Experience Project

The Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health’s Work Experience Week is an annual work experience programme for Year 10 students from widening participation backgrounds, such as lower income households, those who are care-experienced and other under-represented groups. Through various activities including workshops, tours, talks and student projects, the programme aims to introduce higher education, working and studying at Manchester, provide a taster of laboratory science and offer information about careers in science, medicine and healthcare.

Previous activities have included an MRI hospital visit working with junior doctors, a dental reconstruction practical session, careers workshop, biomedical laboratory work, a health data workshop and a dissection practical. In 2019, when asked about the likelihood of going to university on a scale of 1-10, the mean score had increased over the course of the week from 8.9 to 9.7.

Manchester Outreach Medics

The Manchester Outreach Medics (MOMs) is part of a group of projects that work with schools in Greater Manchester to inspire pupils from widening participation backgrounds such as those from under-represented ethnic groups and first-generation students to attend higher education. MOMs aim to provide an insight into life at medical school and the application process for 16-18-year olds through day events with relevant activities, information and presentations on UKCAT, BMAT, communication skills, life as a medical student and doctor and medical ethics. Attendees can also attend lectures on life at medical school, application top tips and how to approach entrance examinations and interviews. Pupils also participate in a role-playing session where they practice their communication skills with a “simulated patient” played by a medical student.

MOMs work with students from just under 50 sixth forms and colleges across Manchester and the North West and equip over 350 pupils per year with the necessary knowledge and skills to make a successful medical school application. Speakers come from organisations such as NHS England, The General Medical Council and The Shared Health Foundation.

Find out more about Manchester Outreach Medics here.

Medics in Primary Schools

The Medics in Primary Schools (MiPS) project aims to inspire primary school students from widening participation backgrounds to consider a career in science and medicine. The project runs 10 different sessions for pupils over the course of a year on topics ranging from CPR to nutrition, each with models and equipment to aid learning and increase interactivity. MiPS runs every Wednesday during term time with student volunteer mentors going into some of our local primary schools.

The project aims to make studying science and medicine at university accessible to those younger children who may not have any knowledge or experience of the opportunities that are available in pursuing STEM subjects in higher education or in STEM careers. MiPS has worked with 150 primary school children in years 5 and 6 in the first semester of the current academic year alone.

Find out more about the project by visiting their Facebook page here.

Making a Difference Awards 2020

8,000 people around the world engaged in our first online awards ceremony on Facebook Live which was presented by Chancellor Lemn Sissay. Details of all winners and highly commended awardees can be found on the social responsibility website, with short films about their winning projects on the social responsibility YouTube channel.