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Race for Equality

Friday 20 May 2011 Black Students

An NUS report has shown that Black students face a range of barriers in further and higher education, which are affecting satisfaction and attainment.

Findings in ‘Race for Equality’ show that 1 in 6 Black students have experienced racism in their current institution, one third do not trust their institution to properly handle complaints, and one third feel their educational environment leaves them unable to bring their perspective as Black students to lectures and tutorial meetings.

The report is the culmination of a two year research project that gathered existing evidence and combined it with new surveys and focus group evidence to understand the experience of Black students in further and higher education.

The project explored various aspects of the academic experience and aimed to shed light on recent DfES research, which has shown that Black students are consistently less likely to be satisfied with their educational experience and to attain first-class degrees in comparison to their White peers. 

The findings show that a simple explanation for the attainment and satisfaction gap of Black students does not exist; it is a complex issue with a range of causal factors. Although the Black student population is a highly heterogeneous group, the research identifies and highlights common concerns among Black students, which are clearly linked to their attainment and overall satisfaction yet often overlooked by institutions

The exclusion of Black students extended beyond explicit experiences of racism: 17% of respondents felt their teaching and learning environment isolated them, 23% felt it was cliquey, and 8% felt it was hostile. Many interviewees also highlighted a Euro-centric curriculum and the lack of Black role models within their institution as further challenges.

NUS President, Aaron Porter, said:

“We have a long way to go to close the participation gap for Black students in education. If Black students feel unwelcome in classrooms this must be addressed by tackling the very real racism that still exists on our campuses."

"This report highlights the work that must be done by institutions and Government to address the concerns of Black students about their learning environment, how their courses are taught, and how their unique perspectives can be brought into the academic environment.”

NUS Black Students’ Officer, Kanja Sesay, said:

“The findings of this research are an opportunity for us to focus our minds on how we ensure education institutions do more to enforce race equality legislation on campuses across Britain. Denying Black students access to opportunity in education has a knock-on effect in later years too and therefore requires everyone's urgent attention."

Race for Equality Report
Download Race for Equality here