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York College's Sian Mantovani to lead research into student experience for people of colour

YORK College Sociology tutor Sian Mantovani has been selected to take part in a major new scholarship project launched by the Association of Colleges (AoC) and the Northern Council for Further Education (NCFE).

The Research Further programme will support 11 scholars from AoC-member colleges, to carry out funded research into areas of post-16 learning where little data is currently available.

After successfully making it through the selection process, Sian will focus her research on the experiences of students of colour in predominantly white further education (FE) colleges.

She said: “This particular subject is something I’ve been really interested in for a long time. It began when I had a conversation with a black student about the challenges she faced at a college where the student population was predominantly white.

“It’s an issue I find fascinating, so when I saw the opportunity to study it through the Research Further scholarship, I just thought it was too good to miss and I went for it.

“Our college community is committed to ensuring all students have a positive experience but there are still conversations to be had about how best to make that happen. If we don’t have those conversations we won’t have an understanding of the issues facing students.

“The point of my research will be to give students a voice.”

Lee Probert, Chief Executive and Principal of York College, said the scholarship was ‘fantastic news for Sian and that the whole College was proud of her’.

He said: “To be selected for the first cohort of this important AoC initiative is a real achievement.

“As an early affiliate of the Black Further Education Leadership Group’s ten-point plan, Sian’s research findings will really help shine a light on matters of race equality in further education.”

David Gallagher, NCFE Chief Executive, said: “It is fantastic to see this pioneering initiative progressing so well. We’ve been blown away by the calibre of the scholars and wait in eager anticipation to see what their research uncovers.”

Sian and the 10 other chosen scholars will now be supported by the project’s advisory board, comprising representatives of government, awarding organisations, funders, and sector leaders from across the UK.