Mentoring programme for Black and Minority Ethnic students

Encouraged, enthused and energised by recent social activism and initiatives by Geography students, we have decided to set up a mentorship programme for Black and Minority Ethnic students.

Wheat in a field

This reflects the Department's own ethos and is also informed by multiple reports, the most recent by Black Geographers, that argue that a lack of diversity among geography students stems from three main reasons.

Barriers to progression: Fewer students from low-income and ethnic minority groups take Geography in GCSE leading to a smaller number meeting A-levels. In addition, the percent of Black and Minority Ethnic students who receive 2:1 at the end of their undergraduate degrees is much lower. Fewer students of colour enter the discipline of geography. Those that do, face barriers at each subsequent level of education. 

We are very pleased to launch our first dedicated mentoring programme for black and minority ethnic students who would like to consider studying Geography at the University of Sheffield. This is a small but vital step in providing greater support to a diverse cohort of future geographers. We pride ourselves on being a welcoming department and believe in building strong relationships between academics and students, so come and join us!

Professor Jenny Pickerill

Head of department

Professional pathways: Geography is often seen as a discipline disconnected from clear professional and vocational outcomes. However, the barriers to progression typically prevent Black and Minority Ethnic students from pursuing Postgraduate and PhD programmes. This excludes them from more aspirational and remunerative career paths. For example, the International Development Masters run by Sheffield Geography has very high employment rates. Supporting Black and Minority Ethnic students at an earlier stage, could better equip them to realise their professional ambitions.

Issues that matter: Geography is perceived as detached and distant from the issues, like racial injustice, that often directly impacts Black and Minority Ethnic students. This becomes starker when we see the lack of representation among the geography academic staff. These are interrelated, and we are committed to changing both through our diversity and decolonisation work.  

Sheffield Geography is proud to have a large percentage of students from local communities. Building on this, and keeping the above points in mind, Sheffield Geography has put an Equity programme in place to support Black and Minority Ethnic students. This will take three forms:

  • Support and mentorship for external scholarship applications: we will identify scholarship opportunities and outline our support for these. For example, Royal Geography Society with Institute of British Geographers has a number of scholarships for fieldtrips.
  • Mentorship for educational outcomes at different stages: We will offer mentorship to undergraduate and postgraduate students to work towards better degree outcomes that lead to the next level of education.
  • We are working to gather funding to offer Black and Minority Ethnic students to support their studies at Sheffield Geography.

Sheffield Geography is home to a number of world leading Geographers who are keen to work with future geographers. Please get in touch with Dr Ankit Kumar ( to initiate a conversation.