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A highway intersection

Research question

What is the impact of the expectations surrounding 'Black excellence' upon the educational experiences and mental wellbeing of Black students at Cambridge?


Project team

  • Fabianna Dennis, undergraduate student reading Psychological & Behavioural Sciences
  • Toni Iheonye, undergraduate student reading Human, Social & Political Sciences
  • Niche Bernard, postgraduate student studying Education


Project report



In seeking to explore potential factors upholding awarding gaps for Back students and its intersection with mental health conditions, we conducted a crossover investigation focusing on race and relevant themes (including the concept of 'Black excellence') and, more subtly, holistic and academic wellbeing. Our findings revealed that 'Black excellence' was perceived to be more than simply ideological, novelty or optional, but instead manifests as a hidden requirement underpinning entry / acceptance that confers time costs, fatigue and shame. It can hinder access to beneficial informal resources and support systems which would otherwise help participants to recognise their own competence and feel equipped to navigate the system.