Friday, 28th April 2017
THE TRUTH ABOUT RACISM IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Atul K. Shah reviews this latest report by the Equality Challenge Unit
Higher Education is one of the great assets of Britain. It has an international reputation, and continues to draw top students from all over the world with a strong magnetic field. The benefits of these institutions to the UK economy and society are huge. In his foreword, Prof Cleary notes: “This report shows that whatever ideals we aspire to within our institutions, the reality is frequently rather different. ... Such cultures and practices, whether conscious or unconscious are especially reprehensible in institutions built on academic freedom and values.”
In order to champion Equality in this sector, the Equality Challenge Unit was established and has just commissioned a major piece of research on race equality in this sector – It is called ‘The experience of black and minority ethnic staff in higher education in England’ and the full report can be downloaded here:
The research was set up by a special high quality race forum chaired by Prof Mark Cleary, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bradford and comprising of senior staff from the sector, either academics, senior managers of trade union representatives. The work was executed in several phases by a research team who used a combination of survey, interviews and focus groups to really understand the experiences of BME staff throughout the sector in England. It was funded by HEFCE.
Here are some pertinent findings from the research:
From the above, we can see the picture painted is very dire. The 2001 MacPherson investigation of the Metropolitan Police used the term ‘institutional racism’ – where processes, structures and cultures are such as to undermine people from ethnic backgrounds in all respects. Reading this report, all the evidence suggests that the HE sector in England is institutionally racist. This is a very serious finding, and one which deserves significant structural and institutional change, with leadership to match. Somehow as a country, we are still too far from seeing the fundamental benefits of diversity. We want to exploit it to our advantage, but not invest in its future. We seem to be scared and threatened by difference. And there is no strong muscle to champion change. This could be a major reason why we are paying such a heavy price today.
Dr. Atul K. Shah is author of ‘Celebrating Diversity’ and CEO of www.diverseethics.com a social enterprise dedicated to culture change. In 2010, he completed an epic Masala Tour of Britain, showcasing the fusion of East and West.
Article added on 8th November 2011 at 10:49am
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