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Racism widespread across UK education system, report shows

Friday 20 May 2011 NUS News

An NUS report released this week shows that racism is more widespread than previously assumed and perceptions of racism are creating barriers to the participation of Black students in further and higher education.

Findings in the report entitled ‘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 evidence from qualitative data showed that many students were put off applying to Russell Group universities, which include Oxford and Cambridge, because their poor record on recruiting Black students implied students would be more likely to experience racism there than at other 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.”

Speaking at the launch of the report at the NUS Black Students' Conference in Birmingham, 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."

Download Race for Equality here