Accessibility statement

The Award Gap Project 

What is the Award Gap Project?

The University’s Access and Participation Plan outlines how the University plans to address its inequality gaps.

The ‘award gap’ (also known as the Attainment Gap) refers to the differential degree outcomes between students from underrepresented groups and their peers.

This typically means that students from certain groups (eg Black students, Mature students and students from Low Participation Neighbourhoods) are less likely to be awarded a 2:1 or 1st Class degree.

The Award Gap Research Project is exploring how all students may benefit from their education at the University of York, examining any potential barriers to student success.

Why is this work important?

Nationally, certain groups of students are less likely to be awarded a 2:1 or above. At the University of York, our black students, mature students and students from low participation neighbourhoods (LPN) are at a disadvantage when it comes to degree outcomes.

  • In 2019-20, the national award gap between black and white students was 18.3. For York, this gap was 17.0 (Office for Students, 2021). University of York data shows that this gap increased to 19.8 percentage points for 2020-21.
  • At the University of York, the gap between mature and young students was 10.3 percentage points in 2019-20 compared to 15.8 for 2020-21.
    For LPN students, the gap was 9.7 percentage points in 2019-20, but 14.2 for 2020-21.

The University is committed to addressing gaps in continuation, progression and award across the diversity of our student cohorts and any stage of the student lifecycle and will act to close such gaps where they appear.

Department-specific data regarding awarding gaps can be requested from

What work is taking place?

While the statistics show us what the gaps are, they do not tell us why there is a gap.

The Award Gap Research Project has examined key literature and is now focused on conducting a four-stage research project.

This began in January with a student survey, followed by a staff survey in the Spring Term.

The results of these will inform some qualitative discussion events in the early summer and then stage 4 - a longitudinal study - will begin in the Autumn Term.

Research project google site

Further resources

Further reading:

  • 'Causes of differences in student outcomes': Mountford-Zimdars, A.K., Sanders, J., Jones, S., Sabri, D. and Moore, J., 2015. Causes of differences in student outcomes, Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Case studies: