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Update on the race equality review

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The following message has been sent to all staff from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Parveen Yaqoob and Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr Allan Laville.

Dear colleagues,

We are writing to update you on the review of race equality issues at our University, including how you can get involved. The review was announced by Vice-Chancellor Robert Van de Noort in June and will be completed by the end of this year.

Colleagues from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups often feel that it is difficult to get their voices heard. So our approach to this review has been to conduct it in two phases - an active listening phase and an evaluation of our performance on race equality against a number of themes and against actions set out by the University's Race Equality Action Team (REACT). 

We have already initiated conversations about race and racism in a variety of settings; in Schools and Functions, in focus groups, through alumni channels and through social media. Many members of our community have written to us directly. Some have shared their personal stories; others have expressed anger that it took the death of a black man for the University to acknowledge the need to act against racial inequality. Some other colleagues were frank about their discomfort in discussing racism but pledged to overcome it.

We understand the nervousness, the fear of offending and of having your words misinterpreted; we just hope that with enough respect and understanding, we can collectively get over those barriers. If your team is struggling to know where to start, get in touch and we'll try to help.

This listening phase of our review will finish with a live event in October for both staff and students; details of this will be shared in due course.  

The review itself has five broad aims:

  • Toactively listen to diverse voices reflecting on race and racismand tounderstand staff and student experience of race inequality
  • To normalise discourse about race by engaging all staff and students in conversations about race and racism
  • To evaluate our current position againstexisting measuresof race equalityset out in our Race Equality Charter Action Plan
  • To understand why we are struggling to meet our race equality targetsandto examineperceived barriers to achieving a culture of equality and tolerance
  • To identifyactions for improvementagainst existing measures of race equality andissuesidentified through the active listening phase

The review will examine key issues relating to race equality within higher education and which are already subject to ongoing work by REACT: differential experience and attainment between white and BAME students, a curriculum which largely reflects white histories and cultures, representation of people of colour at all levels, staff experience and progression, and the extent to which our culture challenges implicit racial bias. The work will be supported by data, but shaped by lived experience and co-produced with BAME staff and students. We would like to thank members of the review team (Bolanle Adebola, Joanna John, Santosh Sinha, Yasmin Ahmed, Nozomi Tolworthy, Nicola Lower, Lisa Davies, Rachel Wates and Sinead O'Flynn) for their contributions so far and the REACT, whose work will be integral to the review.

We look forward to updating you, including information about the live event, soon.

Parveen Yaqoob & Allan Laville

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