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Barriers and Enablers for Future Designers within the awarding gap at the intersection of Race and Deprived Areas


We are working on a new OU Design Qualification, and we want to create better real world situated personas and scenarios to develop the educational programme. A key research objective is to identify (perceived) barriers and enablers for people from a BAME and/ or deprived areas that might wish to undertake a design qualification. 


The overarching scope of work is to highlight career development as a catalyst for accessing and attaining a design degree for our target participants. The OU EDIA change agents programme identified three research areas in the supporting gap for focus group at the intersection of race and social deprivation: Family and Support; Investment; and career development. We want to engage with these potential, future designers to understand their aspirations, and how we might elevate those through participation in design skill workshops for career development.

By these, we hope to unlock conversations around participants’ perceptions of design; what it means to them now and after the stakeholder engagement, so we can observe possible changes in their perceived barriers.

This bid would be a pilot project that sets the scene for subsequent expansion to foster an increased access to design studies qualifications.

Anticipated outcomes:

  • The development of realistic personas and scenarios of the future designers that genuinely reflect the social, economic and cultural realities of the target groups.
  • Raising the design and career aspirations of young people in our focus group.
  • Further develop the project paradigm and methodology for research continuation.
  • Raise the OU profile educational profile.

Impact on staff and students:

To improve our design degree offer for BAME students and those from deprived areas.

To strengthen course affiliation and improve retention. 

To raise broader awareness among OU (design) staff of the underlying barriers to progression to help inform their support.

Related Resources: 
File Vera-Hale-Clive-Hilton-Alessandra-Campoli.pptx109.33 KB

Project poster.