Ensuring equality of opportunity for marginalised groups

Can you disprove this? Students from marginalised groups are not encouraged to join clubs or societies as result of attending ‘give it a go’ events

This guide will be easier for SUs with equality and diversity data on their students.



‘Give it a go’ events – Includes Welcome fairs and taster programmes. The more specific and time-limited the activity the easier this will be.

Marginalised groups – Will depend on the demographics of your institution. In the context of student opportunities we are primarily interested in participation gaps – who is taking part, and who isn’t. In many cases these will be classically underrepresented identities in education such as liberation groups, sections or others like students with caring responsibilities. Consider which groups you are most interested in. We would recommend that HE institutions consider postgraduates.


Part A. Quantitative – build the argument

Firstly we want to ensure that we understand the nature of the participation gap.

Ideally your clubs and societies membership database includes identity data – gender, ethnicity, disability, age – or the characteristics that you’re interested in – e.g. mode of study, caring status, home postcode.

  • If not, then you will need to survey a random sample of students to gather what you need. The best way to do this is using any student records you have, select random numbers (using an online random number generator) up to about 370 of the student population and email them the survey individually. Remember to chase them up. You will be asking about whether they are in the group of marginalised students you are interested in (e.g are they a postgraduate), and whether they are a member of a club and society.

Considering the records relating to marginalised groups, is there a significant difference between the proportion of students taking part in clubs and societies compared to non-marginalised groups within the student population?

Please check and be mindful of how students expect (and have agreed for) their data to be used.


Part B. Qualitative – how does your students’ unions contribute?

Secondly we want to see how many students got involved through ‘give it a go’ events.

Interview at least 5 students from marginalised groups who are already involved. (If you are surveying you could include these questions in your survey to save time)

  • How did you get involved?
  • What motivated you?

Interview at least 5 students from marginalised groups who are not already involved. (If you are surveying you could include these questions in your survey to save time)

  • Have you ever attended a ‘give it a go event?’
  • If yes, why didn’t you go on to join a club/soc you were interested in?
  • What turned you off?

Do ‘give a go’ events seem to have made a difference in their decisions?


Advanced questions

What other routes to entry seem to be effective at lowering the participation gaps?

How do the experiences of marginalised students change over time as they participate?
i.e. Do they: immediately drop out / slowly drop out / grow to enjoy it / immediately enjoy it?

How do those experiences compare to the general student body?

How can you ensure your data in future records not just whether students are participating, but also how/why they are?




(If you develop an interview template, please send it in for others to use