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How far we have come: What the NUS Race Equity impact report means for our organisation and others.

Friday 7 September 2018 NUS News

Today we at The National Union of Students (NUS) released our report on the impact of the Race Equity plan over the last 18 months.  The Race Equity Impact Report is a culmination of work dating back from January 2017, the impact report highlights the progress we’ve made, our key outputs and our achievements.

In February 2016, following a complaint by our then Black Students’ Officer, NUS commissioned an independent review to investigate the allegation it was institutionally racist.

The Runnymede Trust carried out this review and, in December 2016, shared its findings and recommendations in a report which concluded: “There remains no doubt in our minds that NUS as an employer has seriously failed to support Black staff, officers and volunteers and has considerable work to do to address the poor understanding and engagement of race and racism amongst white staff and associates.” In response, NUS welcomed both the findings and recommendations, without reservation.

 In January 2017, NUS started to address the findings of the review. Then, in July 2017, we launched a five-year Race Equity Plan to tackle institutional racism. This plan is grounded in the view that racism is deeply embedded across society, including within institutions.

The past 18 months have been a critical and defining time for race equity within the NUS. Although we’re only at the start of our journey, we’ve already achieved a huge amount, and we now have the foundations in place to start addressing the many racial disparities within the organisation.

Through this report we can demonstrate the impact NUS’ race equity work has had across the organisation in tackling institutional racism and improving the experience of Black, Muslim and Hewish colleagues.

Our key achievements include:

  • Changing our recruitment processes has led to attracting and hiring more black applicants. In 2018 43% of our successful applicants were black. 16% of all internal moves and promotions were also made for black staff.


  • 256 staff, officers and board members received mandatory Creating Equity at work training. Developed to ensure everyone has a basic understanding of liberation, equality, diversity and inclusion.


  • NUS has created a race equity and inclusion team to deliver our race equity work internally and to our members


  • 211 staff, officers and volunteers received Race Equity Training. 100 per cent of participants now recognise their personal role and responsibility in fighting racism.


Unsurprisingly however, addressing racism has not been without its challenges and these are also covered in our Race Equity Impact Report in the hope that other organisations can use our lessons learnt to rethink traditional approaches to equality, diversity and inclusion.  

NUS Black Students’ Officer Ilyas Nagdee said:


“It is encouraging to see the achievements made since the findings from the institutional racism review. This was a time for reflection for NUS and the bold Race Equity Plan that came off the back of the Runnymede Trust’s recommendations will force us to address racial disparities and covert racism. This is a step in the right direction but we do have much further to go if we are to eradicate institutional racism completely.”


NUS President Shakira Martin said:


“This report sets out our clear aims and ambitions for where we need to be with the race equity work while showcasing the achievements already made. I was delighted that we were among the first organisations to approach this huge task in such a comprehensive way. It is now NUS’ commitment to share our lessons with other organisations, universities and students’ unions while continuing to build on the progress so far.”

Although we have started addressing the Review’s findings - and achieved some positive outcomes in the past 18 months. However, creating lasting change requires long term commitment and we recognise that this is only the start of the journey. We have a long way to go before this becomes a racially just organisation.  You can read the full report here.