Introducing Our BAME Research Team

Back in May, we announced that the Students' Union had been accepted into a research project being led by The Student Engagement Partnership (TSEP) to look into the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students on campus. 

Following the initial announcement, we've been busy pulling together our research plan and we're really excited to have hired two fabulous student researchers to undertake interviews over the next few weeks.

Ahead of them getting out and about on campus, we thought we’d let them introduce themselves!

Neelam Akhtar

Degree: Business and Management (Year in Business)

Year: Fourth/Final Year

What was it about the role that made you apply for it?

The chance to make a difference for other ethnic minority students is what appealed to me the most. There has never been a role like it at Royal Holloway and I felt like this was my time to make an impact and help in creating a more inclusive institution for new students.

What excites you about the project?

Hearing about different students experiences at the university is really exciting for me. I am excited about being at the centre of change. It will be interesting to see how different people of all backgrounds and cultures are finding university life and what we can do to go that extra step further to make it even better.

Why do you think this project is important?

We are currently in such a proactively changing environment where BAME students are no longer being quiet about their needs, we want to be heard with the ultimate goal being to make Royal Holloway a place for everyone. Academic institutions need to understand the needs of all students and ensure diversity of thought to include people of all backgrounds and cultures and encourage their ideas and a newer way of thinking.

British ethnic minority graduates are between 5% and 15% less likely to be employed than their white British peers six months after graduation. In terms of earnings, black Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women were at the greatest disadvantage and could expect to earn between 3% and 7% less than white British women from similar backgrounds. These are the issues that concern me the most and by having the conversation with students together, we can find a way to tackle the problems.

Shahmir Akram

Degree: Psychology

Year: 2

What was it about the role that made you apply for it?

The opportunity to contribute to The Student Engagement Partnership was one of the reasons I applied for the role. Contributing to improving the quality of the student experience, as a student and an ethnic minority myself, will be an enriching extension of my own experience. I wanted to be involved, first-hand, in the process of change, as this research project will provide information on the needs of all students not just a majority but those that occupy differing ethnicities, abilities and experiences within the higher education sector.

What excites you about the project?

I will learn more about and engage with the BAME student population but most of all I am ecstatic to apply my skills that I have developed from my degree. I have conducted research in manipulated situations, however, this project will encourage me to utilise qualitative skills that I have yet to explore and covers a subject that is reflective of my own identity. I am very excited about being challenged in an environment aside from academia. 

Why do you think this project is important?

I applied for the role because I was raised in an area immersed with various ethnicities and attended public schools which had a higher ratio of BAME yet there was much disparity in the opportunities available, for example, the number of friends I know that did not pursue higher education because they felt the student experience and academia had little to offer them. I have my personal experiences and I understand the many narratives of BAME groups. As a result, I believe that listening to the ideas and experiences of current BAME students is important in order to overcome obstacles that prevent prospective BAME students from accessing the higher education sector by taking action on improvements suggested by students for students.


We'll be starting interviews on the 25 February, so if you're interested in speaking to either of our researchers about your experiences please drop us an email at and our team will be in touch.