Solihull College & University Centre has undertaken research funded by The Education & Training Foundation (ETF) to investigate the challenges and barriers BAME staff face in progressing to senior leadership roles.
The research entitled ‘Breaking Down Barriers’ has been conducted by two external professionals, Dr Obinna Nkwocha – Lecturer in Business and Finance at the University of Wolverhampton and Hanan Fara – Ph.D. researcher at the University of Birmingham.
Dr Obinna Nkwocha is a Development Finance expert and facilitator & Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Wolverhampton. He holds a Ph.D. in Development Finance, Master’s in Management & Finance, BSc in Economics, and Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education. Dr Obinna has worked as a project consultant for third sector organisations and research consultant for several national and international organisations. He has a significant record of experience in voluntary work in Africa and the UK. His research interests are Entrepreneurship, Female Empowerment, Microfinance, Public Policy, SMEs, Impact Research/Assessments & Mixed Methods Research.
Dr Obinna and Hanan have interviewed staff members who completed the Aspiring Leaders Training Programme developed by Dr Rebecca Gater, the College’s Vice Principal of Quality & Curriculum, to foster the next generation of leaders, co-ordinators, managers, coaches, mentors and supervisors within the College.
Dr Rebecca Gater explains: “We aim to use the findings of this research to recommend and shape the second phase of development programmes, such as Aspiring Leaders, to monitor the progress, confidence and skills development of BAME aspiring leaders as they proceed through their careers. Researching the lived experiences of BAME aspiring leaders within the college will allow us to focus on the barriers and challenges that these individuals have faced.”
Hanan Fara, also an Academic Coach and Higher Education Administrator, comments: “The findings of our research will showcase exactly what staff are saying and we aim to be practical in our recommendations. The report we produce will represent their voices, not ours.”
Hanan Fara is a final year Ph.D. researcher and Teaching Associate at the University of Birmingham, as well as an academic mentor and a visiting lecturer at Newman University. Hanan’s research is multidisciplinary, covering areas in Sociology, Education, and Religious Studies and exploring experiences and identity construction of BAME students within HEI settings (focusing on Muslim student experiences). Hanan holds a BA in Theology and Education from Newman University and an MA in Theology from the University of Birmingham.
Dr Obinna Nkwocha explains further: “The emerging themes were echoed by staff and some of the recommendations we are to offer in the report can be implemented by senior management within a matter of weeks, as well as some medium- and long-term guidance.”
The College commits to disseminating the findings and outcomes of the research and is grateful for ETF’s funding of this project and Dr Obinna Nkwocha’s and Hanan Fara’s hard work in collating the lived experiences of the College’s staff members.