Equality & Human Rights Commission – Racial Harassment in Higher Education


October 23rd, 2019

The Equality & Human Rights Commission has today (Wednesday 23 October) published its inquiry into racial harassment in the higher education sector, ’Tackling racial harassment: universities challenged.’

Professor Sarah Sharples, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equality Diversity & Inclusion holds UEB-level responsibility to support staff and students of all protected characteristics and recently published a new EDI Strategic Delivery Plan to ensure diversity is at the heart of all our activity and operations.

Commenting on the EHRC inquiry, she said:

“This is an important inquiry that has examined in depth the issues that many universities, their staff and students face ranging from outright prejudice and hate crime to micro-aggressions. The University has made considerable progress in building a more equal, diverse and inclusive campus community and, with more than 20% of our student community drawn from BME backgrounds, we will study this report to learn what more we can do to support our staff and students.

“We have upgraded our systems and support to report and investigate harassment, developed specific campaigns to stress the inclusive values of the University of Nottingham as a community, and increased numbers of specialist Dignity Advisers to advise and support staff. However, we recognise that we must continue to work and focus on further initiatives to ensure that all measures that we take are effective in addressing inequalities, and that when reports of harassment are made, whether formal reports, or informal, we are proactive in our response.

“The University has also introduced decisive measures to promote and support diversity across our staff and student community including: recruitment diversity guidelines and trialling use of anonymised applications; training to address unconscious bias in the classroom; inclusive teaching practices; reverse-mentoring schemes; and work to decolonise the curriculum. We are investigating assessment practices to minimise unconscious bias on students and piloting initiatives to reduce the attainment gap in STEM subjects.

“The University is determined and committed to work with our partners across the higher education sector and has pledged support for the UUK/NUS ‘closing the gap’ action plan on tackling attainment gaps. We are also challenging ourselves as an institution to continue our progress over the long-term through work with our BME students and staff in applying for Race Equality Charter (Bronze) status by 2020/21 that commits universities to improving the representation, progression and success of BME staff and students.”

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