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The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has responded formally to the findings of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Inquiry on racial harassment in universities. In a letter to John Wilkes, Head of EHRC in Scotland, SFC acknowledged that the findings made difficult reading but welcomed the focus being given to the impact of racism on campus.

When the findings were first published SFC was quick to respond, recognising the seriousness of the issues the report raised. We were the first organisation to engage with the EHRC and jointly hosted a seminar bringing together representatives from the university sector and the Scottish Race Equality Network.

Feedback from this event has helped to shape SFC’s formal response to the Inquiry and we have now committed to:

  • Work with Advance HE to develop resources so that institutions have access to a range of tools to raise awareness of racism and tackle unacceptable behaviours.
  • Work with partners to support staff and students to have conversations about race and racism with greater confidence.
  • Place increased focus on the reporting requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty to enable us to examine and monitor the steps taken by institutions to increase the protection from harassment afforded to students.
  • Work with partners to identify persistent inequalities to help set measurable evidence based equality outcomes.
  • Ensure that the mental health counselling provision offered is culturally competent and meets the needs of all individuals.
  • Work with the Office for Students during the consultation on the National Student Survey to ensure the views of students studying at Scottish institutions are taken into account.

At the heart of these actions is a commitment to work with partners to ensure that this work is properly informed and directed by staff and students who have lived experience of racism.

Commenting on SFC’s response to the EHRC Inquiry, Karen Watt, SFC Chief Executive said:

“Everyone should have the opportunity to work and learn without being exposed to racial harassment. The findings of the EHRC Inquiry were deeply disappointing and SFC is responding quickly and decisively to act on the recommendations.

We look forward to working with our partners to deliver on our commitments and make it absolutely clear that racial harassment has no place in Scotland or our institutions.”