UCU responds to Hepi report on reducing racial inequality in higher education

19 September 2019 | last updated: 24 September 2019

Universities must do more to ensure fair access and progression for black and minority ethnic (BME) staff and students, UCU said today.

The union was responding to a new report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), which highlights a number of barriers to achieving race equality in universities. The report calls for a number of actions including linking research funding to the Race Equality Charter, and more recognition of the informal mentoring and advocacy work undertaken by BME staff.

UCU said the new report echoed issues identified in the union's own research, which found that nine in ten (90%) BME staff in colleges and universities report having faced barriers to promotion, and many black staff in universities face a culture of bullying and stereotyping.

The union said that there was no room for complacency when it came to tackling racial inequality in universities. It called for all universities to commit to the Race Equality Charter and work with trade unions to address the concerns of BME staff and students.

UCU also called for greater commitments to ensuring BME students can get a foot on the ladder of academia, after a recent freedom of information request revealed that just 1.2% of PhD places funded by UK Innovation and Research in the last 3 years went to black or black mixed students.

UCU general secretary, Jo Grady, said: 'This new report is a timely reminder that we still have a long way to go when it comes to achieving equality for BME staff and students in our universities. Our own research has shown that far too many BME staff in universities still face significant barriers to promotion as well as an insidious culture of bullying and stereotyping.

'There is no room for complacency when it comes to tackling these persistent barriers to access and progression. Universities need to do much more, including ensuring that BME students from all backgrounds can get a foot on the ladder in academia. A good start would be for all institutions to commit to the Race Equality Charter and engage fully with trade unions to address the concerns of BME staff and students.'

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