Many universities have issued statements supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. However, students and staff are eager to see concrete actions to create more racially inclusive HEIs. At SUMS, we are passionate about this issue and wanted to host an event focused on how these statements could translate into positive action. Here, SUMS Principal Consultants Helen Baird and Jeannette Strachan share insights from their research and the recent #ChangeStartsNow event.

However uncomfortable it is – and it is uncomfortable – we need to talk about race. As a sector, we must acknowledge that we have so far failed to make HEIs racially inclusive for students and staff. Fewer than 1% of our professors are black (HESA, 2018/19) and universities employ just 25 black women as professors (Rollock, February 2019). Black students are still under-represented at our most prestigious universities and they have lower retention rates across the sector than any other ethnic group. There is a clear attainment gap between Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students, and their white counterparts achieving a first or upper second class degree – this gap is widest between white and black students. At the same time, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has concluded that racial harassment is a common occurrence in UK universities.

SUMS convened an outstanding panel of experts in the field who have successfully driven tangible change at their institutions. Our panel members were:

  • The Chair, Professor Zoe Radnor, Vice President (Strategy and Planning, Diversity and Inclusion) at City, University of London
  • Professor Udy Archibong, Professor of Diversity at the University of Bradford
  • Kevin Coutinho, Athena Swan (Equality and Diversity) Manager at UCL
  • Dr Zainab Khan, PVC Outcomes and Inclusion at London Metropolitan University
  • Professor Sarah Sharples, PVC Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and People at the University of Nottingham
  • Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, Vice President (Higher Education) at NUS.

The webinar was recorded and can be viewed here. However, for convenience and to reach a wider audience we have also summarised the key points from the event in this short briefing paper.

You can read the full briefing paper here: SUMS Briefing Paper – Change Starts Now: Making HEIs Racially Inclusive – November 2020

Other News