The importance of academic advisors in supporting a sense of belonging for Global Ethnic Majority (GEM) students

Neil Currant (UAL)

Monday, April 4, 2022 4:00 PM - 4:45 PM

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Session Outline

This presentation draws on my doctoral research into the experiences of belonging for British Asian and Black students at a predominately white university in the UK. One of the key findings was that for students who felt a strong sense of belonging at university the role of their academic advisor was crucial (e.g. Kandiko and Mewer 2013). Students who had weaker relationships with their academic advisor also struggled with their sense of belonging. For many GEM students, factors such as work, family and commuting can make it challenging to engage in more traditional activities designed to create belonging such as extra-curricula activities. Also a hostile (or indifferent) peer racial climate can also alienate GEM students (Museus and Jayakumar 2012). Therefore, the academic advisor can play an even for crucial role in supporting belonging for these students compared to their white peers.

Students were very clear about what they wanted from their academic advisor:

  • Initiate and maintain contact.
  • Listen with compassion and empathy.
  • Help them navigate university.

The presentation will discuss a new proposed conceptual model of belonging that highlights the relational, contact element (e.g. Fiske 2004) and how academic advising can support a sense of belonging. The first half of the presentation will outline these key findings and the model. The second half will consist of a discussion around the findings and the value of the proposed model for academic advising. The aim of the presentation will be to give delegates an understanding of how academic advisors can support belonging for GEM students.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
C1 - Core values of academic advising and tutoring
I1 - HE Provider mission, vision, values, and culture
I6 - Campus and community resources that support student success