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Tackling racism and racial harassment at our University

29 Apr 2021

An update from Professor Nalin Thakkar and Mehrunnisa Lalani

We are aware that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff (BAME) and students remain frustrated that our University is still failing to address systematic and individual racism and harassment. We wanted to assure you that we recognise that we have to do more to build the trust of our BAME colleagues and students. 

We have begun changing how we address Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) issues by:

  • Restructuring the EDI function and appointing an EDI Director
  • Strengthening the governance and accountability of EDI
  • Ensuring that EDI is resourced adequately
  • Developing a one-year EDI strategy to start addressing the issues immediately as we develop a new long-term strategy 
  • Work with students and the Students’ Union on reporting

We have taken on board the recommendations of the Universities UK report on ‘Tackling Racial Harassment in Higher Education’ and have taken note of the issues raised in the BBC documentary ‘Is Uni racist?’

To address racism and racial harassment we are currently:

  • Piloting Active Bystander Training which deals with issues of micro-aggressions with real life examples.  The feedback from this training will help us to improve the session and roll it out across the University.  We will be prioritising roll-out to frontline staff
  • We are carrying out a review of our complaint processes including Report and Support
  • Anonymised CVs are being piloted in Professional Services
  • Work has already begun on making the curriculum more inclusive and faculties are playing their part in tackling issues which arise, with support from the EDI Team
  • Staff, students and the BAME Staff Network have been engaged on EDI strategy - racial equality is a key priority and the action plan supporting the strategy will have a clear metric for improvement which will enable us to measure impact
  • We have met with the Students’ Union to discuss BAME student health and wellbeing and what needs to be done to provide an appropriate response and support
  • Looking at options for more safe spaces for BAME staff and students to discuss their experiences and receive support.

We will continue to make progress against our Race Matters report and our recent Action Plan.

Any claims of racism and discrimination taking place at our University are upsetting, and this is a cause of major distress for all our community. Racism and discrimination have no place in our University. We are committed to ensuring all those who work and learn here are able to do so in safety and with dignity.   

Professor Nalin Thakkar
Vice-President for Social Responsibility

Mehrunnisa Lalani
Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion