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Let’s talk about race

Campus diversity

16 Mar 2021

New resources, designed to help tackle the issue of racism on university and college campuses, have been unveiled today at a national equality and diversity conference.

Their development has been funded and supported by the Scottish Funding Council, working in partnership with HE equalities organisation, Advance HE, and created by a steering group of experts from the Scottish further and higher education sectors.

The project to develop the resources is part of a wider SFC-funded initiative set up in response to the 2019 Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) enquiry into racial harassment at universities in the UK. The report revealed that racial harassment was a common experience for students and staff. Following its publication, EHRC Commissioner, Pavita Cooper, called on people to listen to the real life experiences of those studying and working at universities and to tackle the issue “once and for all”.

Khadija Mohammed, a senior lecturer at the University of the West of Scotland and Chair of the steering group, said:

“It has been an absolute honour and privilege to work alongside an expert steering group. Together, we shared powerful stories of our lived experiences of racial harassment and these narratives helped to shape the direction of this project.

“Our passion and commitment is evident through the co-creation of the assets. We have had some critical and often uncomfortable conversations about race and racism in our institutions.

“It’s now time for critical action and accountability - the challenge will be to sustain the dialogue, as we move forward as a sector, in order to ensure our educational settings are racially just and inclusive spaces.”

Karen Watt, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“The EHRC Commissioner called for people to listen to the experiences of those who have suffered racial harassment on campus and to tackle the issues raised. That was the starting point for SFC’s investment in this project and for the work we have undertaken since 2019 with the EHRC and Advance HE.

“I am proud of what we have achieved so far, and grateful to the work done by Khadija and the Steering Group in producing resources to support informed discussion and actions. This is a significant step forward and a strong platform for the work that lies ahead.”

The resources include a Race Literacy Glossary which defines and explains terms used in current debates about racism, making it easier for students and staff to have informed discussions. The materials also contain guidance for leadership teams considering the actions they need to take to stamp out racism on campus.