Be SMART: A BAME staff-student partnership to enhance graduate employability

Obi Oputa, Iain Cross


This case study explores ‘Be SMART’, a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff-student collaboration to enhance graduate employability, piloted at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. It provides a novel insight into how students, staff and external organisations working in partnership can successfully engage BAME students in enhancing their employability skills and experiences. Be SMART offered BAME students the opportunity to access mentoring, leadership and professionalism workshops and also flexible paid internships. We explore the impact of Be SMART by means of a questionnaire and a series of semi-structured interviews with participants. Our findings show that participants, who widely reported significant improvements in their self-confidence, acquired a range of professional-level skills from their engagement. They also developed a stronger sense of belonging to the University, enhanced their peer network and were subsequently more likely to engage with the Careers Service. Our case study critically explores the success factors of Be SMART to facilitate wider uptake of BAME-targeted, co-created employability initiatives in United Kingdom higher education.


Employability; BAME; Co-creation; Professionalism; Belonging

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