Our students – Diversity Actions

Our students – Diversity Actions

This blog is aimed mainly at staff, or people who are thinking about working in our faculty. If you want to find out more about students, we suggest you take a look at some of the fantastic work on our sister blog: https://engineering.blogs.bristol.ac.uk/

BUT we can tell you about the following changes we’ve made to improve diversity for our students….

In 2019-20, our students were: 

  •  21% female overall – an increase since 2014-15, when the student population was 17.5% female. The cohort which joined us in September 2018 was 23.7% versus 18.6% female in 2014 – indicating that the proportions of women students are increasing each year.  
  • 4 out of our 4287 students identified as non-binary or other gender – an increase of 150% in 4 years   
  • 32.9% BAME – (31.2% in 2014-15). We intend to find out why many students do not declare their ethnicity, as this has increased to 16.9% in 2018-19 from 12.4% in 2014. 

What have we done so far for current students?  


  • Implemented the “no lone woman” in tutor or project group policy and continuing to monitor this.  
  • Faculty’s Industry Mentoring Scheme for first year students. From 2014 to 2017, the number of female mentors involved in this scheme has increased by 40%     
  •  Introduced Unconscious Bias Training into the Professional Engineering Unit for 5 out of 6 of the UG Programmes. 
  • Faculty wide – Achieved 30% target for female speakers at “Inside Track” Industrial Liaison Event. 
  • Faculty Research Internships funded by EPSRC Summer Vacation bursaries, the School, Faculty and ILO and actively ensuring that female and WP students are fairly represented 
  • A student Hackspace was introduced to the main SCEEM building in 2018 for students across the faculty (at a cost of £90,000 for equipment and £163,000 building works) to help build community for students and increase cross-disciplinary exploration. 

In SCEEM (School of Computer Science, Electrical and Electronic  Engineering and Engineering Maths), by: 

  • increasing the proportion of women academics, we have provided many more visible role models for potential female students;  
  • ensuring better gender representation at open and UCAS days  –  

…this has led to a rise in the proportion of female students – from 18.7% in 2014-15 to 20.8% in 2018-19. 

Our PGT female student proportions (a mean of 28.1% over the last 5 years) are greater than the HESA sector benchmark (23.5% over the last 5 years). 

  • By increasing the visibility of School policy around study suspension and options for part-time study (through posters within the department and on public display screen advertising a range of departmental news), PhD students are more aware of the opportunity to go part-time. Promoting part time options will in particular help us attract those potential students with caring responsibilities.  
  • Student liaison – a programme targeted at supporting students to gain skills and confidence for employment by working closely with discipline linked or protected characteristic linked Engineering societies (such as the Women in Engineering society). Students are supported to work together for the benefits of others and the programme manager supports female students in particular to take leadership roles.  

In CAME (School of Civil, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering):

In the previous three years, the number of female undergraduate students has increased, but the number of male students has remained steady, increasing the percentage of female students from 16.6% in 2014/15 to 21.7% in 2018-19.   

This is higher than the national average in Civil, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, where the percentage of female undergraduate students was 14.5% in 2016/17. 

The percentage of female PGT students has increased markedly from 34% in 2014/15 to 60% in 2016/17. This is substantially more than the average for Civil, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering postgraduate students (taught and research) in the UK, where the percentage of female students on average has been 17%-18% since 2013. 

  • Gender and Ethnicity Student Inclusion Project – an external agency with expertise on Race were commissioned to explore issues on race and the intersection with gender for BAME students in CAME. 

In CAME, there are 281 PGRs  – 56 female (20%), 223 male (80%)  

  • new PGR students are allocated a ‘buddy’ so that they have a peer support contact from the outset.   
  • In CAME for PGRs – Implemented policy of including University links to careers/family support schemes in all advertisements for PhD studentships as well as a statement that part-time studentships will be considered.