Alumna leads project to diversify postgraduate research community

Business alumna Loreal Stokes, who completed both her undergraduate and postgraduate study at BCU, tells us about her role as Project Manager for a collaboration between BCU and the University of Wolverhampton, which aims to help diversify the postgraduate research (PGR) community in the West Midlands.

In November 2021, BCU and the University of Wolverhampton launched a £800K project titled ‘That’s Me! Eliminating barriers to postgraduate research study in the West Midlands’.

Following the funding boost from Research England and the Office for Students (OfS), the universities are working together with the region’s employers to tackle persistent inequalities that create barriers for postgraduate research students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups across the region.

The project focuses on three key professional and practice-based subject areas – Health, Education, and Business and Law – and aims to eliminate barriers to access to PGR study by:

  • changing university cultures and processes
  • creating an enabling regional employment environment
  • facilitating an outstanding supervisory and peer support network.

Alumna Loreal, who completed her Business and Management undergraduate degree with first-class honours back in 2017 and then went on to complete her Masters at BCU, was recently appointed as the Project Manager for the industry-higher education collaboration.

Talking about the project, Loreal said: “The West Midlands is ethnically, and culturally diverse, which questions why talented ethnic minorities are continuing to be excluded from higher-level qualifications, professional occupations and senior roles. The ‘That’s Me!’ project aims to begin to unpick this and to build a regional ecosystem, which allows ethnic minority postgraduate researchers to succeed academically and also be valued for their contribution through employment opportunities.”

Loreal noted that there was a clear lack of representation of women and ethnic minorities in the career spaces she was trying to access while studying at BCU.

She said: “It was clear that misogyny and racial prejudice was, and still is, intertwined within the management field.

“As a result of my studies, I chose to commit to dismantle the systems that oppressed those that represented me and my community. As a result of this, I pursued an International Master of Business Administration (MBA) at BCU to understand the holistic strategic operations of businesses, to position myself to make change from within. I shaped my studies around the intersecting nature of gender, race and culture, and the implications within career progression."

Loreal is now hoping to connect with others. She said: "We are looking to connect with ethnic minority students and communities (including parents and carers), regional employers and HE staff members. 

We wanted to engage with those who have lived experience and those who are interested in eradicating the barriers for ethnic minority PGR students within the West Midlands.”

She added: “I am so excited to be working back in partnership with BCU. The Business School provided me with the opportunity to reject and fight the imposed social barriers I faced, thus supporting me to truly thrive. I’m happy to be back, using my skills and knowledge, to lead a project that platforms my passions and expertise so well.”

If you would like more information, contact Loreal on: