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The Race Relations (Amendment) Act and education

Monday 28 July 2008 Black Students

The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000  (RRAA) represents a milestone for campaigners on race equality in Britain. It requires all public institutions, including colleges and universities, to take action to promote race equality. 

The law imposes a duty on institutions to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination
  • Promote equality of opportunity
  • Promote good race relations between persons of different racial groups.

This duty is known as a positive duty. It requires institutions to pre-empt unlawful discrimination before it occurs. This means not simply dealing with racism when it occurs, but being pro-active in preventing it happening in the first place.

In addition, further and higher education institutions have to fulfil specific duties, which help meet the general duty. These are:

  • Having a race equality policy
  • Monitoring the admission and progress of students, and monitoring staff recruitment and career progression by racial group
  • Assessing the impact of all institutional policies for their impact on different racial groups
  • Publishing the results of monitoring and assessments on race equality, as well as the race equality policy itself.

This offers an opportunity for significant advances to be made in race equality in Britain. It is vital, therefore, that all staff and students are aware of the requirements of the law. We encourage staff and students to take part in consultations on the impact of institutional policies (one of the specific duties) and to form black students’ groups to aid the consultation process.

Colleges and universities must ensure they have the necessary resources to meet the requirements of the law (not having adequate resources cannot be used as an excuse for failure to comply) and actively engage with the spirit of the legislation by:

  • Welcoming and promoting a diverse staff and student body
  • Having regular consultations with black students’ groups
  • Clearly allocating roles and responsibilities for promoting race equality, so people know what is expected of them
  • Taking swift action against any staff or student member who does not abide by the institution’s race equality policy.

How you can get involved
To ensure your institution is meeting its requirements under the RRAA, the Black Students’ Campaign has produced a tool-kit  for use on campus.